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Cabinet sales should bounce up this year.

Cabinet and vanity sales took some bad bounces the last two years, sliding from 48 million units in 1989 to 47.1 million units million units in 1990, to 45.5 million units last year.

But according to the annual industry forecast calculated by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn. and F.W. Dodge, total U.S. demand for kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities is projected to reach 48.1 million units this year. Hitting this target not only would better 1991's total by nearly 6 percent but would represent the industry's highest level of demand since 1979.

Home building leading the way

The KCMA/Dodge forecast pins most of industry's hopes for revitalized cabinet demand to an expected corresponding increase in housing starts. Last year's construction of about 1 million units of single and multi-family housing was the lowest total recorded in 10 years, according to a separate Dodge study. This year, however, Dodge projects that 975,000 single-family homes and 200,000 multi-family units will be built.

While home building is seen gaining market share this year, it would be difficult to underestimate the importance of the remodeling/replacement market to the cabinet industry. The KCMA/Dodge forecast also predicts modest growth for cabinet sales generated by home remodeling. America's average home is not getting any younger and neither are the cabinets that inhabit them.

Last year, remodeling accounted for nearly 30 million of the 45.5 million cabinets and vanities that were sold. In 1986, remodeling accounted for only 17.9 million of the 42.1 million units sold. During that same five-year time frame, cabinets and vanities sold to home builders dropped from 20.2 million units to 13.8 million units.

Obviously, cabinet manufacturers are fortunate that the remodeling/replacement market got hot when sales to home builders were not. Otherwise their recent woes would seem like the molehill next to the mountain.

Tapping potential growth markets

Even though lending rates are relatively attractive, it is unlikely that anytime soon housing starts will approach the 1.8 million units that were built in 1986. Therefore, cabinet manufacturers should continue to seek out new markets for their products.

One area that is receiving increased attention is cabinets for rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms. in our Top 25 Cabinet Manufacturers survey (page 60), 12 of the Top 25 cabinet manufacturers indicated that they sell some "other room" cabinetry. Among them, Wood-Mode (No. 6) of Kraemer, Pa., and Les Care Kitchens Inc. (No. 16) of Waterbury, Conn., reported that about 10 percent of their cabinet sales were for other rooms.

Speaking of Les Care Kitchens, President Jay Lestorti, told woodworking machinery suppliers attending last month's Woodworking Industry Conference, that he sees huge potential for ready-to-assemble cabinets. Lestorti based his comments on the improved technology that is available to manufacture RTA products on a high-quantity/high-quality basis and the expansion of the do-it-yourself market.

Even though RTA furniture has made serious inroads in the U.S. market, there are many who continue to doubt that many American consumers are ready, willing and able to assemble and install their own kitchen cabinets. Otherwise, as was the case of Euro-style cabinets, we would expect to see far more major cabinet manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon.

We'll keep our eyes peeled.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Christianson, Rich
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Materials put the finishing touch on products.
Next Article:Master works in the making.

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