Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The slow death of the microwave


America is tired of the microwave.

Microwave sales have fallen or remained flat every year for nearly a decade in the US. Unit sales have tumbled by 25% since 2000, and 40% since their peak, in 2004.

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The waning popularity of the American microwave deserves a closer look. For 40 years, Americans bought microwaves by the millions, and more of them each year. Some 90% of American households now own a microwave, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That broad market penetration is likely one reason that sales have tailed off. Why buy a new microwave if your old one still works? But sales of toaster ovens—which have similar market penetration and product longevity—have boomed since 2000. Last year, shipments of other kitchen appliances rose by nearly 8% while microwave shipments fell another 5%, according to data from market research firm Mintel. And microwaves were already in the vast majority of American households and offices for more than 10 years before their sales topped off.

A bigger factor behind the decline in sales of microwaves is likely that Americans just aren’t using them as much anymore. A shift in eating habits—which favors freshness and quality over speed and convenience—has left a growing number of microwaves dormant on kitchen counters.

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1 comment:

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