NEW YORK —
Consumers found little relief from
last week’s triple-digit heat wave in appliance
stores, where a combination
of supply-chain problems and
late-spring heat has kept room
air inventory scarce.
The problem began earlier
this year with a shortage of
which created what Cowboy
Maloney president Eddie Maloney
described in May as the
tightest supply situation he’d
seen in 40 years (see TWICE, May 2).
Since then, supplies have been further constrained
by an early AC selling season in the category’s
core Midwest and East Coast markets, buying
group executives reported.
As a result, said John White, appliance executive
VP for BrandSource, manufacturers and distributors
are cleaned out of AC stock and some retailers
are working down years’ old inventory that built up
over previous cooler seasons.
“Room air is always a crap shoot because the lead
time is so long,” White told TWICE. “Everyone wants
to time it just right to avoid holding onto inventory, but if you miss your target, you’re out.”
MEGA Group president Rick Bellows concurred.
“Every manufacturer had supply issues, and there’s not
much out there right now,” he observed. “We have some
inventory squirreled away, and we’re working with a few
distributors that are still filling in as needed. But even if
we see some containers show up late, most of the business
is done by now anyway.”
Bellows noted that regardless of supply issues, room
air “is not the business it was 15 years ago” due to
central air and sub-$100 models that are widely available
through home-improvement chains and other retail
Bill Trawick, president and executive director of the
NATM Buying Corp., said larger retailers, like those that
comprise his group, probably have sufficient AC inventory
to tide them through the season, unless they experience
sustained heat in their trading areas.
“There aren’t tons of units out there,” he said. “But with
the early heat we’re seeing some decent room air business
— and some refrigeration replacement.”