Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 10 News List

New rules spur increase in sales of child car seats

SAFETY FIRST The new rules have been delayed for three months, but sales of safer seats for children under four years old are still doing well

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Retailers have seen sales of child car seats surge over the past two months after the government approved regulations requiring that children under the age of four or weighing under 18kg use the seats when traveling in cars.

The regulation, promulgated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, was scheduled to take effect yesterday but was postponed at the last minute to Sept. 1.

"Sales [of child car seats] have grown 10-fold since the government started to publicize the new policy in April," said Linda Chen (陳碧玉), marketing manager of Les Enphants Group (麗嬰房), a major retailer of children's garments with 220 outlets nationwide, including independent outlets and shops in department stores.

Chen said that among their seats, which range in price from NT$4,000 to NT$20,000, the NT$10,000 model made by Japan-based Combi was the best-seller because it could be used for any child up to the age of 4.

"Customers like to buy something that can be used for a long time despite its higher price," she said.

Another retailer, Chickabiddy (奇哥), also saw sales double last month.

Its "Peter Rabbit" car seats, priced at NT$6,000, for newborns as well as children under four have become the customers' favorite, according to Chickabiddy's marketing manager Cheng Ling-ling (鄭玲玲).

Hypermarkets have focused on cheaper child car seats, while department stores have been selling multi-functional ones that cost more.

"Our products cost between NT$1,000 and NT$4,000. Sales have surged 10-fold in April and May," said Fiona Wang (王彤芳), a manager of RT-Mart (大潤發).

Another hypermarket chain, Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安), also reported a 10-fold increase in sales in the first two quarters.

Although demand is expected to continue to rise, especially after the law is formally implemented in September -- with fines of at least NT$500 on violators -- no retailer has run out of the seats so far.

"Suppliers have made preparations to replenish the products. Also, some parents are still unwilling to spend money on child seats unless the government starts to issue tickets," Cheng said.

With a wide variety of products on sale, the Cabinet-level Consumer Protection Commission warned that consumers must check safety labels before buying.

"In addition to the inspection label, the products should also bear the name and address of the manufacturer, manufacturing date, serial number, the child's weight it can sustain and installation method," said ombudsman Chiu Hui-mei (邱惠美).

When the commission examined 306 child car seats in 40 outlets nationwide last month, it found 41 models, or 13.4 percent, unqualified.

Any questions about car seats can be presented to the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection under Ministry of Economic Affairs, she said.

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