March 29, 2014

PEOPLE AREN’T ACTUALLY ABANDONING MICROWAVES.

But when you read a little deeper, it turns out that people aren’t actually abandoning microwaves; they’re just not replacing them as frequently. . . .

Microwaves are also, in some ways, moving upscale. Sales of microwaves that are built into the kitchen, rather than sitting alone on a counter — which are much closer cousins to the commercial oven — have grown by more than 100 percent since 2000.

Hmm. So people are shifting toward built-in microwaves — and sales of microwaves peaked in 2006. This doesn’t suggest a trend toward fresher food to me; it suggests that the housing bubble produced a surge in demand for microwaves, as contractors and homebuilders installed them above half the ovens in the U.S. When the housing bubble popped, demand sank precipitously. Because people replace built-in appliances much less often than they do the ones on their countertop, it’s taking a long time to recover.

Also, they’re more reliable now, so they need replacing less often. And the new ones no longer offer fancy features that the old ones lack, so there’s no reason to replace them unless they break.