Beginning Saturday, the state government has allowed the sale of air conditioners and air coolers among other things in Hyderabad.
The maximum temperatures in Hyderabad and across the state are hovering around 42 degrees Celsius, and those dealing in sale of air conditioners of the worst-hit after having missed the peak summer sale owing to the ongoing COVID lockdown,.
Easing ongoing lockdown restrictions in red zones, especially Hyderabad, the state government Friday night issued orders permitting shops and establishments dealing with automobiles and auto-parts, automobile repair garages, air-conditioners, air-coolers, fans, etc to open.
However, dealers of air-conditioners in the city feel the latest relaxation in lockdown is too little, too late.
Dealers in air-conditioners do 70 per cent of their business between February and mid-May, points out Vijay Kumar, one such wholesale AC dealer in Begumpet, adding that an order from the state government on May 15 leaves them with only 15 days to liquidate their existing stock.
“The business this year is almost wiped out. With the summer almost over, I don’t think first-time buyers will be keen to buy ACs now. I sell around 600 ACs a year and 70 per cent of the sale is in summer,” he said.
According to him, around 2.5 lakh ACs are sold in Telangana and the losses for bigger players in the market may run into several crores.
Another small dealer in the city, K Ravinder of Froster Aircon in Vidyanagar, said allowing dealers to operate is of no use until the issues of transportation, labour and logistics are sorted out. “There are no stocks available with the company godowns due to transport issues. We take not more than 30 units a week and a sudden lockdown meant we do not have enough units with us. We do not use spare parts from the open market and companies are unable to supply. My employees are in their native places and no one wants to return yet,” said Ravinder.
The customer care centres of companies, too, are also closed owing to a total lockdown.
There are 400 such dealers in Hyderabad. Rajinder says he continues to receive calls as usual from customers for sale as well as repairs. “Even if I had to send my technicians for repairs and maintenance, people are worried about letting them inside the houses. As long as we assume everyone is a COVID carrier, business cannot function,” he added.
When contacted, a member of Twin Cities Refrigeration Dealers’ Association (TCRDA), Arun Sancheti said he is unaware of the market situation but will do as the government says. “The losses are not just in our business, the whole world is suffering. We will move on with whatever we have. There is no worry about it,” he added.
An executive with the Bajaj Electronics showroom in the city said they were busy with pending orders and delivery. “We have opened the store from today only for sale of coolers and ACs. Several delivery orders are pending and we are currently busy with that,” he said.
Bajaj Electronics, with 55 stores in Hyderabad, used to sell around 3,000 ACs per day during March, April and May. “We had a good sale in January because temperatures were rising. It started declining in February,” said the executive. The sale of ACs continued till end of June last year and the executives are hoping a repeat of the same this year too. However, there are no special deals and offers to recapture the market. “Since morning today, we are getting a lot of customers. We are good,” he added.
In an earlier order directing relaxations to lockdown, the state government had allowed shops selling construction material, hardware, equipment, machinery for agriculture operations like pump-sets etc to remain open, in addition to those selling essential goods.
In a press statement, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, after a high-level meeting Friday, said Covid-19 cases are limited to four zones of Hyderabad, namely, Charminar, LB Nagar, Malakpet and Karwan. And that the state government will finalise its strategy after perusing the guidelines of Government of India beyond May 17 — the day lockdown ends.
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