Economy

Air-cooler makers pin hopes on June as States begin unlocking

After two consecutive summer seasons getting impacted due to pandemic-related restrictions, air-cooler makers are now pinning hopes on June to see some uptick in sales, especially in the northern and central regions. Several States are gradually opening up markets albeit with restrictions besides allowing e-commerce platforms to deliver non-essential products.

Salil Kappoor, Business Head, Home Appliances, Orient Electric Limited, said, “The industry is banking on June for sales momentum to pick up for air-cooler segment. The bulk of sales typically happen in the March-June period. So, June will be a crucial month for the industry for sales uptick with restrictions on retail stores easing in many States. Early signs from our trade partners are encouraging.”

The northern region witnessed cooler summers this year but rising temperatures in June are also making air-cooler companies hopeful about an uptick in sales in the region, which is a key market for the segment. Air-coolers are largely sold through smaller retailers and mom-and-pop shops. Players said States such as Haryana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh are gradually allowing retail stores to open up in some form or the other with various restrictions.

Kappoor said while the general sentiment has been impacted due to the intensity of the second wave, consumers are expected to continue to focus on need-based purchases. “As consumers become more value-conscious, they are also increasingly seeking trusted brands and quality brands,” he added. The company has launched its high-performance metal Supercoolers this year in northern States, in a category which is largely dominated by unorganised players.

Inventory build up

Dealers and distributors of air-cooler products begin stocking up from January in the run-up to the summer season and are currently saddled with a lot of inventory.

Ravindra Singh Negi, President – Electrical Consumer Durables, Havells India, said: “During normal summer seasons, the industry on average records close to 85 per cent of the end-consumer sales between March – June. However, the second wave of Covid-19 imposing lockdowns and movement restrictions resulted in an adverse impact on the industry. The air cooler industry has witnessed a loss of demand, almost a rerun of last season. As the markets reopen, we expect the demand growth to revive but due to limited summer season window, immediate sales recovery will be tough.”

Air-cooler makers are also hoping to leverage on the e-commerce channel for sales. Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO, Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, which launched Thomson air-coolers early this year, said, “The next 25-30 days will be very crucial for the air-cooler industry. We are seeing some early signs of demand uptick in northern and central region as e-commerce channels have now been allowed to deliver non-essential products in many regions.”

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