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Microwave Ovens: Are They Going the Way of the Dinosaur?

America may be waving bye bye to the microwave. Microwave sales have tumbled, or remained static, for more than a decade since the peak sale days of 2004.

Now, it could have something to do with the fact 90 percent of American homes already have one (up from 20 percent in the ’70s and 80 percent 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. “People become more health conscious, and more interested in cooking ‘fresh,'” said one analyst. “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.”

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