PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.-U.S. sales of small appliances rose 5 percent on a dollar basis last year, according to research from The NPD Group.
That gain came on top of a 4 percent pickup in 2011, NPD said. In addition, because unit sales volume declined in 2012, dollar sales were fueled by a favorable mix of higher-priced products—a clear story of “trading up,” the research firm said.
The biggest growth category in small appliances last year was small kitchen electrics, with a 10 percent increase on top of a 9 percent gain in 2011. Sales of home-environment products were up 3 percent in dollars, after picking up 4 percent the prior year. Personal-care products experienced a 2 percent increase, driven by an almost 3 percent rise in average selling price, NPD said.
Also playing major roles in small-appliance sales were the Internet and social media. Online dollar sales jumped 24 percent in 2012, and accounted for 14 percent of total industry dollars. Also, products bought online garnered almost 50 percent higher prices than those purchased in a brick-and-mortar store, NPD said.
Sales of small appliances researched through social media or blogs increased 33 percent in 2012, and products purchased as a result of recommendations from family or friends experienced the largest gain in average selling price, NPD said.
Debra Mednick, NPD executive director and home industry analyst, said given the still-parlous state of the economy, the idea of consumers buying more expensive small appliances seems “counterintuitive. But we have learned that consumers will rationalize their spending when products deliver on convenience or performance, despite a premium price point. In fact, consumers may be more attracted to certain premium products and will forego other purchases to have that ‘little bit of luxury.’”