Washer-dryers popular as home sizes shrink

Wish to save time and space cited as reason for rise in sales

More people are buying washer-dryers to do the laundry, a survey has found.

Sales of washer-dryers - which usually have a door in front instead of a cover on the top - surged by 50 per cent to about 9,000 units in Singapore in the past year.

This is despite the average price of such machines - at US$887 (S$1,200) - being more than twice that of top-load washing machines.

But washer-dryers made up only about 6 per cent of the 154,000 washing machines sold last year.

Market research firm GfK tracked the sales of washing machines and refrigerators at superstores, electrical chains and independent stores from February last year to January this year.

It found that 280,000 units of washing machines and fridges were sold in the past year, about 10,000 more than in the same period a year ago.

Singapore households spent US$157 million on these goods last year, a 4 per cent increase from the year before.

Ms Jasmine Lim, account director for home and lifestyle at GfK, said: "The completion of more built-to-order flats in the past three years has been spurring demand for major appliances and stimulating growth of the market."

Experts attributed the growing demand for washer-dryers in particular to people wishing to save space and time.

A washer-dryer can perform the functions of both a washing machine and clothes dryer, but typically takes up half the space required for both.

Ms Lim said: "The shrinking sizes of new homes in Singapore have highlighted the issue of space constraints.

"Having a washer-dryer does away with the need for a space at home for hanging clothes to dry."

Agreeing, Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim said: "Many of the new flats do not have space for you to hang the clothes outside. We have hot weather for clothes to dry, but we have many rainy days too, and for working couples, no one may be around to take in the clothes if it rains in the day."

A GfK spokesman said the increase in sales volume could also be the result of more promotions and a narrowing price gap between washer-dryers and front-load washing machines, as prices become more competitive to attract demand.

Advertising director David Tan, 40, who lives with his wife and daughter, bought a washer-dryer a few years ago.

He said: "My wife and I are working, so we can't be at home in the day. Drying clothes indoors also takes a long time, especially for big items such as bedsheets.The washer-dryer works well. Clothes will still be a bit damp, but we leave them to dry for a few minutes and it's OK."

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg