Waiting for raging summer

- May 20, 2023
| By : Tanisha Saxena |

A brief spell of rains brought smiles to Delhiites but worried retailers of desert coolers heave a sigh of relief as heat picks up

DIP IN SALES: Sale of desert coolers dipped over the past month due to rains, according to some retailers

The brief relief through unseasonal rains in the first few days of May ended this week as temperature soared to the season’s highest of 42.5 degrees Celsius on Monday (May 15) leaving Delhiites annoyed. 

However, the rising mercury level has come as a relief for some like Noor Alam, who till a few days ago, were fretting due to the pleasantness of the weather. 

The 30-year-old was used to sitting idle in front of his shop selling desert coolers, mostly metal and a few of plastic, through most of the last one month as rain brought the heat down and made the Capital liveable. 

“There were dark clouds in the sky and what could be more affected than the sale of desert coolers. It was extremely low [for the time of the year]. I had been unable to sell even one cooler per day,” said Alam, whose shop is in Saidulajab near the Saket Metro Station. 

“The sales seemed to be good during the end of March when the temperature was going up, and we all felt that this time the summer rang up early. However, in April the weather changes gave relief [to people] from time to time. People only buy coolers when they feel the temperature, especially during the night-time, is high.”

PREFERENCE: Plastic desert coolers are more preferred than metal ones nowadays

He added that only a high-speed fan sufficed over the last month.  

“That’s exactly why there was hardly any demand for coolers,” he added. 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of searing summer heat with temperatures rising above normal levels. This has indeed come as good news for the companies gearing up for summer season as it promises higher sales of electrical appliances including fans, air-conditioners, coolers and refrigerators as well as cold drinks, ice-creams and summer clothing.

Better news 

Rajesh Kumar, 45, owner of JMD Manchanda electronics in south Delhi’s Ambedkar Nagar said, “Every year, we observe significant increase in sales of air-conditioners and coolers. This year as well, we have been observing fairly good sales since the month of March. People booked air-conditioners and desert coolers due to the soaring temperature [early in March]. We have nearly all the brands under one roof and are hopeful that the sales would go up in the coming days.”

Kumar though claimed that the demand for plastic desert coolers is high as compared to air-conditioners. 

He elaborated, “In Delhi, we live in houses which are literally shaped like match-boxes. People want plastic coolers as they are light and don’t create much noise. Also, plastic desert coolers can be easily moved from one place to another, and it is one of the reasons why people prefer them over metal coolers. These days, manufacturing companies of plastic desert coolers have added such unique features that it works no less than an air-conditioner.” 

COVID-EFFECT: The sale of soft-drinks dipped due to Covid

Kumar cites the example of a tray meant for ice cubes which facilitates cooling when the temperature breaks records. 

There are several brands manufacturing plastic desert coolers such as Symphony, Hitachi, Intel among others. 

Pawan Bansal, a trader from Malviya Nagar, said, “Prices of coolers vary from Rs 4,000 to Rs 20,000 depending on their sizes and features. These days, manufacturing companies have been trying to add many advance features to the coolers so that people no longer have to yearn for air-conditioners if it is not in the budget. Symphony is one of the top-most brands which people have been keen on purchasing. The company is quick to attend to any problem. Also, if we compare the electricity consumption, then plastic coolers consume less electricity than split air-conditioners,” said Bansal who had sold 20 coolers by April-end.

The preference for plastic desert coolers has hurt the sellers of metal coolers in the Capital. 

Raghav Duggal, a trader of metal desert coolers in Laxmi Nagar, explains, “Financing facilities available on plastic desert coolers and air-conditioners has helped consumers. They wish to purchase on equated monthly instalment (EMI), but for a small trader like me, allowing an EMI is not possible. We have to pay the labourers on time [so we need the entire amount]. A metal cooler costs anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000 depending on the size. The price also depends on the quality of the metal sheet used in making the cooler.”

Trading companies like Vijay Sales, Croma and several others have been providing/facilitating the purchase by allowing consumers to buy on EMI. 

Shyam, who works as a salesperson at Shilpi Electronics in Khanpur, said that the Godrej air-conditioner has been in demand and it is expensive, costing between Rs 36,000 and Rs 62,000. 

“The demand is not bad, if not great. In the last week of April, we sold six air-conditioners. We provide facility of financial assistance by letting consumers pay through instalments. There’s a method according to which a consumer has to pay 20% as down payment, and the rest is divided into EMI stretching up to eight months. As many as 80% of the buyers opt for EMI. This has indeed allowed even reluctant customers to purchase air-conditioners.”

Rent better than purchase

Inflation has also hurt consumers, forcing many to skip buying even desert coolers and opt for air-conditioners on rent. 

Geeta Devi, a resident of Rohini revealed that she was planning to take air-conditioner on rent due to rising inflation and prices and lack of durability of coolers. 

“I bought a metal cooler last year, but by the end of the season it started suffering from technical glitches. A metal cooler hardly works for more than two seasons and by the third season, either it requires so much of repairing that it becomes compulsory to buy a new one. Hence, I decided to get an air-conditioner on rent.”

Due to job losses and lower wages caused by inflation and post-pandemic slowdown, some are willing to even give up comforts and are instead willing to opt for fans. 

COSTLY AFFAIR: Inflation and the resultant high prices have driven the sales of fans

Kunal Rawal, a corporate employee who lives in Nizamuddin, away from his home in Moradabad, said, “Most cooling appliances have become expensive compared to last year. Inflation is affecting the buying capacity of middle-class people. Even necessary items like milk, LPG gas cylinder, pulses, and essential cooking oil have become expensive. I have to adjust under a simple fan when I return home, tired from office.”

It isn’t just the sales of air-conditioners or desert coolers that have been impacted or delayed by the weather, other products related to summers have also been affected. 

Mohit, who sells ice-cream in Lajpat Nagar market next to a famous stall selling momos, admits that the start wasn’t that great this season due to rise in Covid cases but has settled since then.  

“Ice cream is everyone’s weakness. No matter how low or high the temperature gets, those who want to have it don’t think twice. But the sales were affected three weeks ago when there was a sudden spike in Covid cases. People got slightly scared, and of course it is natural. During those days only, the sales were extremely low, otherwise it is going great, and I hope it will continue.”

Tough times

But the grocers who sell aerated drinks and other cold beverages seem to be having a harder time than those selling ice-creams. 

Sundar Lal, who runs a grocery store in Kailash Colony, says, “Since the anxiety induced by pandemic, people have been extra cautious about their health. While we agree that Coca Cola or Pepsi have fans, the sales get affected when people get worried about their health. We are expecting an increase in sales in the coming days, but as yet the sale has been average.”

No so, the seller of clothes. For shopaholics, a day when the sun is right on the top of their heads isn’t the right time to go for shopping. They flood the market when the sun sets. 

Yatharth Kumar, a salesperson at H&M said, “Delhi always observes worrisome summer season with excruciating heat. In such a scenario, people look for comfort clothing. Since the month of February, we have been handling customers who are shopping summer apparels. It is predicted by some experts that we will be experiencing prolonged summer this year, so it is definitely good news as it will translate into higher sales.”