Ding! The Microwave Is Done

Quartz looks at the fall of microwave sales

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 23, 2014 1:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – Microwave sales have tumbled, or remained static, for more than a decade since the peak sale days of 2004, reports Quartz, which, after diving into a bit of microwave history, comes to the conclusion that "America is tired of the microwave." Sure, the dip in sales could have something to do with the fact that 90% of American homes already have one—up from 20% in the '70s and 80% in the '90s—but that was still true for more than 10 years before sales showed trouble. The more likely story is that a shift in eating habits toward quality over convenience has left microwaves struggling, while substitutes, like toaster ovens, are flying off the shelves.

"Microwaves have sort of had their day," an industry analyst explains. "As people become more health conscious, and more interested in cooking 'fresh,' that's not helping microwaves." Sales of frozen meals are also taking a hit after nearly 60 years of sustained growth, and microwavable popcorn sales are slowing. Plus, with the small appliance market booming with crock pots, griddles, and rice makers, people aren't willing to take up valuable counter space with a bulky microwave they don't really use. So is the microwave dead? Not quite, since the more upscale, built-in microwaves are doing well. Rather, it could be beginning "a slow, drawn-out decline," Quartz notes.

Ana Magdalena Melian, 91, uses her microwave oven in Las Guasimas,Cuba, Wednesday, March 26, 2008.
Ana Magdalena Melian, 91, uses her microwave oven in Las Guasimas,Cuba, Wednesday, March 26, 2008.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Ana Magdalena Melian, 91, uses her microwave oven in Las Guasimas,Cuba, Wednesday, March 26, 2008.
Ana Magdalena Melian, 91, uses her microwave oven in Las Guasimas,Cuba, Wednesday, March 26, 2008.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
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