Arlington, Va.— Unitary shipments backed into a record year in 2000, despite falling below year earlier totals from July onward. Shipments nearly seized defeat from the jaws of victory by falling 21% in December. Shipments for the year, nevertheless, totaled 6,647,071, up 1% from 1999.
“We hit a record because of a very strong first six months,” said Ed Dooley, vice president/communications, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute. “The economy was clipping along at a very high rate of growth and that slowed as a result of six interest rate increases on the part of the Federal Reserve Board, resulting in a downturn in the economy that’s being felt in unitary shipments.”
Dooley said the reason for the slowdown is purely on the Fed’s actions, and the economy has entered a period of virtually no growth. As a result, consumers have less money to spend on new housing, remodeling and other upgrades. He expects the slow times to last through the first half of 2001.
“While ARI doesn’t make predictions, it’s possible that we’ll be looking at a shipment total this year that’s less than last year,” Dooley said.
On the plus side, replacement units are such a large percentage of shipments, he noted, that shipments tend to stay at a high level regardless of housing activity. Also, the Fed is lowering interest rates, which would make mortgages more affordable.