Household Vacuum Cleaners

SIC 3635

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing vacuum cleaners for household use. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing vacuum cleaners for industrial use are classified in SIC 3589: Service Industry Machinery, Not Elsewhere Classified. Establishments primarily engaged in installation of central vacuum cleaner systems are classified in SIC 1796: Installation or Erection of Building Equipment, Not Elsewhere Classified.

The value of shipments for household vacuum cleaners (including parts and attachments) was $1.2 billion in 2008, down more than 60 percent from 2002. In 2003 "top 10" retailers like Walmart, Target, and Sears sold $2.6 billion in vacuum cleaners. That year, more than 1.87 million units were sold in the United States.

Vacuums remove 80 percent of soil from carpet, making them essential for carpet care. Vacuums are more effective if they have a rotating brush, beater bar, and powerful suction capabilities. Even with these features, they must be adjusted to carpet height, bags must be changed when full, and belts and brushes must be maintained.

The four primary categories of household vacuums are upright, canister, stick, and handheld models. The upright vacuum cleaner, which was the first vacuum to gain widespread acceptance in the United States, descended from the manual carpet sweeper. Uprights come in two styles: those with a vertically mounted soft collector bag and those with an exterior plastic shell that contains the bag. Because they have a rotating brush, uprights are usually better at cleaning carpets. Their limited suction makes them less efficient at cleaning upholstery and bare surfaces, however.

Stick vacuums are similar to upright cleaners, but they usually lack a rotating brush and do not clean as well as either the canisters or uprights. Stick vacuums, however, are usually lightweight, easy to store, and inexpensive. The two types of handheld vacuums are electric and rechargeable.

Following solid industry growth during the 1960s and 1970s, the household vacuum cleaner industry reported steady expansion during the 1980s. Prodded by new product introductions and positive demographic trends, vacuum cleaner sales soared from $775 million in 1982 to $1.87 billion in 1990, reflecting an average annual growth rate of more than 10 percent. Stick and handheld vacuums were the fastest-growing product segments during this period. An economic recession, however, sent industry revenues tumbling below $1.7 billion in the early 1990s. The industry recovered in the mid-1990s, which buoyed earnings and promised to revive struggling manufacturers. Vacuum industry shipments grew significantly in the late 1990s, increasing from $2.3 billion in 1997 to $2.9 billion in 2002.

In early 2007, TTI Floor Care North America of Glenwillow, Ohio, became the largest vacuum manufacturer when it acquired the Hoover brand from Whirlpool for $107 billion (Hoover became part of Whirlpool with its acquisition of Maytag in 2006). TTI also owns the Royal, Regina, and Dirt Devil brands and is part of Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd. in Hong Kong. A new research and development center was in the planning stages.

By the late 1990s, vacuum manufacturers tried to boost sales with new high-tech products. In order to make filtration systems more desirable, vacuum manufacturers wanted consumers to be alerted to the damage caused by fine dusts. Eureka, for example, introduced a line of environmentally-friendly vacuums that were designed to filter out 99 percent of the dust and dirt that entered the vacuum. Philips Home Products Corp. introduced Blue Magic, a high-tech vacuum with a turbo-compressor that operated by fuzzy logic. Blue Magic also had a silencing mechanism and could be operated with a remote control. Another technological highlight included new polymers, which allowed vacuum manufacturers to reduce unit costs and weight while improving quality.

In 2007 there were 37 establishments operating in this industry with 5,631 employees. The industry shipped more than $1.35 billion that year, decreasing the following year to $1.2 billion. In the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, bagless models were touted as the best alternative for those with allergies and for general air quality. Hands-free "robotic" vacuums were also becoming more prevalent. An English company, Dyson, entered the high-end market with a claim that their vacuums used a filterless technology that never loses suction power.

As with many segments of the manufacturing industry, the United States maintains a trade deficit in household vacuum manufacturing with imports totaling more than $1.8 billion while exports account for only $305 million.

Current Conditions

The industry generated an estimated $1.5 billion in revenues for 2010, an increase over $1.2 billion in 2008, while gross profit was approximately 20.63 percent. The United States imported $1.8 billion in household vacuum cleaners from 40 countries. Additionally, the United States exported $430.7 million in household vacuum cleaners to 112 countries., with total U.S. consumption of household vacuum cleaners was $2.8 billion in 2010.

According to industry statistics, there were 26.1 million vacuums and steam cleaners sold in the United States in 2010, up from 24.8 million units sold in 2009. Of the 26.1 million vacuums and steam cleaners, 19.3 million units sold were upright vacuums. While demand for upright and stick vacuums declined between 2006 and 2010, demand for steam vacuums increased 23 percent during the same time. Vacuum manufacturers took note and began offering more dual product combinations, such as "steam with vacuum and sweeper functions." Overall vacuum sales grew 1.4 percent between 2006 and 2010.

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