Nuremberg, 14.09.2021

Household appliances: In high demand during times of crisis

The global market for small and large household appliances recorded an excellent first half of 2021, with sales of small appliances up 21 percent and large appliances up 31 percent compared to the same period last year, which was impacted by lockdowns. GfK expects total sales for 2021 to reach $362 billion, which represents an overall increase of 8 percent, marking a new record in global sales volume. The focus on people's homes is further fueled the buying mood. When it comes to storage, food preparation, cooking, and even cleaning chores, consumers value performance/capacity, high quality, and top class.
Demand for small and large household appliances has been impressive in the first six months of 2021, even exceeding pre-Corona sales levels in comparison to 2019 period: 20 percent increase for large appliances and 25 percent increase for small appliances. However, due to the pandemic and the varying infection levels and associated restrictions, extreme fluctuations can be observed in the market. Compared to the same period last year, the large equipment market in India grew by 51 percent, in China by 38 percent, and in Western Europe by 32 percent in the first half of 2021. Small appliances recorded above-average growth of 27 percent in Europe.

Norbert Herzog, GfK expert for household appliances adds: “Increased demand in the market is also causing price increases, which are additionally exacerbated by sharp increases in raw material and logistics costs. A price increase of 23 percent in the second quarter confirms the upward price trend that has already been observed since the third quarter of 2020. This could slow demand in the second half of the year. Regardless, we expect the market for home appliances to grow by 8 percent overall in 2021, setting a new record in global sales volume.” 

Consumers focus on performance/capacity, high quality and top class

In 2021, people still spend a lot of time inside the home and their demands on household appliances will increase. When it comes to storage, food preparation, cooking, and even cleaning chores, consumers value performance/capacity, high quality, and top class.

For example, high-capacity side-by-side refrigerators (+36 percent) or those with more than four doors (+33 percent) were particularly popular. Furthermore, products promising elevated hygiene also showed potential. Washing machines with a steam function sold almost twice as much as the year before, when the market was already worth around $5 billion. 

There is also an increased demand when it comes to the kitchen. Whether food processors or espresso machines, built-in appliances such as dishwashers or cooktops (preferably with integrated exhaust system), all these product segments grew significantly faster than the market for large and small appliances as a whole. While during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, small cooking appliances were still in great demand, a year later, old familiar categories such as automatic espresso machines, but also styling appliances (e.g. straightening irons, hair styling tools) are again driving growth. 

When it comes to cleaning, many consumers focus on time-saving helpers. Robot vacuum cleaners grew by 50 percent, overtaking traditional cylinder vacuum cleaners in sales for the first time. They performed particularly well alongside handstick vacuum cleaners, which again grew by 19 percent in the first half of 2021. 

Online sales reach unprecedented levels

One look at online retail shows that new all-time highs are being recorded for both small and large appliances. Following growth in large appliances online in the first half of 2020 (+30 percent), this year saw renewed growth of 38 percent compared to the same period last year. This means that more than 31 percent of all major household appliances are sold online. This figure for small appliances is even higher at 49 percent.

“COVID-19 has elevated us, almost by necessity, to a new level of digitalization,” explains Norbert Herzog. “But consumer loyalty and trust in traditional retailers remains strong. It is their online business that has benefited the most, driving up the home appliances market in Europe with a triple-digit growth rate of 152 percent compared to 2019. New online formats and innovations such as live streaming events in China also offer great potential for Europe.”

Notes to the editors

GfK regularly collects sales data in more than 70 countries worldwide for the consumer electronics, photo, telecommunications, information technology, office equipment, and major and small domestic appliance segments through its retail panels.

Unless stated otherwise, all figures mentioned in this press release refer to the six months from January to June 2021. Growth rates in percent refer to sales compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. All sales and growth figures are calculated in dollars. 

Media contact: Julia Richter, T +49 911 395 4440, 

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