Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 10 News List

AC demand on the rise as nation languishes in heat

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

With Taiwan seeing record high temperatures, air conditioner retailers are reporting surging sales as well, market professionals said yesterday.

"Over the last two weeks, our air conditioner sales jumped 220 percent over the same period last year," said Bruce Ting (丁三龍), an executive at Tsann Kuen 3C (燦坤), one of the nation's largest consumer-electronics retailers, with 113 outlets nationwide.

Japanese rival Daiichi Corp Taiwan (泰一電器) also said cooler demand is on the rise.

"On Sunday alone we shipped out some 250 units -- nearly double the one-day sales number we achieved late last month," said Lee Teng-wen (李登文), a deputy manager at Daiichi.

The retailer has 11 stores throughout Taiwan.

Taiwan's electricity usage hit a record high of 28,750 megawatts yesterday, as a heat wave sent temperatures soaring above 36?C, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

The bureau said Monday was the hottest day of the year so far, with a record high of 37.8?C in Taipei. Temperatures may keep climbing for some time, with the average daily temperature in the capital area to be around 34.1?C this month.

Sizzling days and steamy nights have stimulated consumers to search for air conditioners.

"The weather is extremely hot ? I can't stand the heat any more," said Ruby Chung (鍾緹芸), a 32-year-old bank teller who was checking out air conditioners at Tsann Kuen.

With a new AC, Ruby hopes to be able to get a good night's sleep. But she may still have to wait for several days after her purchase, as air-conditioner installation can't catch up to the booming demand.

"Our 130 mechanics work everyday from 8am to 10pm, but we still lag behind the schedule," Ting said.

Tsann Kuen originally promised to complete installation within 48-hours after purchase. Customers in the Greater Taipei area, however, were recently informed by the company that they might have to wait as many as four extra days after purchase for installation, Ting said.

He added that Tsann Kuen doesn't charge an installation fee for window-mounted air conditioners and offers 50 percent installation-charge discounts on two-stage units.

The retailer said it had sold 500 units per day over the last three days.

"This year we are expected to ship out 55,000 units annually, up 22 percent over last year's 45,000 units," Ting said.

UK-based B&Q International Co (特力屋) has decided to lure customers with assurances of timely service.

"We guarantee that customers will get their air conditioners installed the day after they make their purchases," said Vickey Wang (王宇茜), a marketing official at B&Q.

The company charges NT$800 to install a window-mounted air conditioner and upwards of NT$2,000 for two-stage units.

As the Taipei City Government started Tuesday to fine companies and individuals whose air conditioners drop water, many customers are interested in buying no-water-dropping products, which account for some 10 percent of the total number of AC sold in Taiwan, according to Ting.

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