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Air Conditioner Stores Sweating to Keep Up with Demand

By Fred Dreier | July 17, 2012 7:10am
P.C. Richard & Son was well-stocked with air conditioners on July 16, 2012.
P.C. Richard & Son was well-stocked with air conditioners on July 16, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Fred Dreier

NEW YORK CITY — Air conditioning retailers across the city are straining to keep up with demand for units as the hot weather continues to send temperatures close to the triple digits in the city.

Clerks at Target reported being sold out or close to sold out of window units by Monday afternoon, on the eve of a heat streak that's set to send the mercury up to 95 degrees. Workers at rival PC Richard and Sons and Best Buy also reported that the air conditioner units were flying off the shelves.

Robert Lombardi, manager of the Atlantic Terminal Target in Brooklyn, said his store sold out of air conditioners two weeks ago, and he does not expect to receive any backup inventory for the remainder of the summer.

The Atlantic terminal best buy had approximately 50 units in stock.
The Atlantic terminal best buy had approximately 50 units in stock.
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DNAinfo/Fred Dreier

Lombardi said his store sold out of its initial 400-plus units in May, when traditionally, the early shipment lasts until mid-summer. 

"The bulk shipments usually last a month. This year it lasted a week," he said. "It's slim to none left for the whole company."

Lombardi said his store has purchased extra fans and humidifiers to sell in the absence of the air conditioning units. 

Of the seven Target stores in the city, only three had air conditioning units in stock on Monday afternoon: the College Point location, the Flushing store and the the Bronx Terminal store, all of which had two or less air conditioners by Monday afternoon.

Clerks at the stores did not know when to expect additional inventory.

Other big box stores seemed to roll with the increased demand. The Best Buy in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn had approximately 50 Frigidaire units on display, ranging in price from $279 to $429. A store manager declined to discuss sales, but a sales clerk said the store receives weekly re-stocks on inventory. 

Across Flatbush Avenue at P.C. Richard & Son, nearly 100 air conditioners sat in two large rows displays and two separate island displays. The store carries the brands Friedrich, LG, Frigidaire, Sharp and its own brand, Generations, with prices ranging between $129 and $899. Sales staff said the business had additional inventory located upstairs. 

Lon Posner, a 14-year employee at the Brooklyn location, said the company starts displaying AC units in early April. He said the rush to buy air conditioning units this year began in mid to late June, after the first heat wave.

"There's always people who think that this is the year it won't get hot," Posner said. "The first night they can't sleep, they come in."

Posner said the Brooklyn store receives daily re-stocking deliveries from the company's warehouse in Farmingdale. He also said the store will likely start replacing the air conditioning unit display with back-to-school items, such as mini refrigerators and microwaves, in two to three weeks. 

"Air conditioners is a big business for us," Posner said. "I feel like I've sold one to everybody in Brooklyn."