Neptune

By Jamie Latshaw What was hot in '98 in major appliance stores? Product innovation and a little help from Mother Nature made 1998 a very good year. The weather was a considerable factor, putting retailers in position for a stable year as the sale of air conditioners rose from 1997, with a cool, low-humidity summer and not many a/c sales. In addition, a number of product trends took hold this year and likely will keep the market going into 1999. Healthy Water Hype Water filtration systems in side-by-side refrigerators saw a big push. Maytag's lines, specifically the Jenn-Air Twin Fresh side-by-sides, promote its "fresh ideas" in refrigeration and water filtration. GE Appliances

The major appliance industry is waiting for what's left of El Niño to go away and crank up up the heat, impacting the industry's sales this summer. "I had my heat on last night," said John Oswald, vice president of Appliance Center, Maumee, OH, last month. "It's a little hard to sell refrigerators and air conditioners when it's 40 degrees." "Air conditioners have not been a driver yet," Lew Gaffen, vice president of Bernie's Audio Video TV & Appliance, said. "May was a good month, but people aren't standing in line to buy them yet." Heat and humidity are important this time of year

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