LAHORE - The sale of air-conditioners and split units has not picked up momentum here in the City as compared to the previous year due to its escalating prices and high electricity tariff. Sources in the local market said the sales of air-conditioners and split units has dropped about 20 per cent in May 2009, if compared with May 2008. According to a survey conducted by The Nation, the hand-made desert air-coolers are in high demand in this summer as compared to plastic made air-coolers. The prices of desert air-coolers vary from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 according to its size. We are selling at least 10 to 20 air-coolers every day. This year, we have seen the people are preferring installation of air-coolers at their residences. The desert air-coolers work well during the scorching heat instead humid weather, Mushtaq Ahmed, a manufacturer alongside Shaukat Khanum Road said, when contacted. He said that electricity tariff, becoming unaffordable for most of the people with every passing day, was also one of the reasons behind the increase in air-coolers sales. Even those people are buying air-coolers who already had installed air-conditioners at their residences, he added. The market sources said that most of the people who belonged to salaried-class are preferring air-coolers due to skyrocketing prices of electricity and split units as well. A LESCO official said the replacement of air-conditioners with air-coolers would help bridge the demand and supply gap of electricity particularly during peak hours. This year, the prices of split air-conditioners have increased up to Rs 4,000 for various brands available in the local market as compared to 2008. They further said that the manufacturers increased the prices on the pretext that their cost of doing business has soared considerably. Sources in Abid market, Citys leading market of electronics goods, informed that the prices of air-conditioners, both local and imported, have increased by at least 20 per cent. They also informed that the prices of air-conditioners particularly split units usually shoot up ahead of the summer season and the demand for these products increases. However, they informed that a raise of Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 in the prices of AC split units is not noteworthy as the core inflation has jumped to above 20 per cent this year. The split air-conditioners that earlier cost between Rs 17,000 to Rs 40,000 would now cost between Rs 20,000 to Rs 45,000. A shopkeeper said the air-conditioners both imported and locally made are available in the market but the middle-class consumers prefer locally made 1.5 ton models. He further said that the local manufacturers had increased the prices, as the cost of imported models of international brands have also registered considerable increase this year due to depreciation of rupee and import duty. The shopkeeper said that various local companies had increased their prices between 15 to 20 per cent in accordance with the market prices as compared to the last year. Different companies have also announced incentives, and price cut on locally made air-conditioners to attract customers while few companies are selling their brands terming it as energy savers and consumers friendly, he added. He said the split air-conditioners were now extremely popular as the window AC consumes too much electricity, which is becoming more and more expensive after the government has increased electricity tariff repeatedly during the last six months. The shopkeeper further informed that the Chinese manufactured air-conditioners had also registered price-hike of about Rs 2,000 during this season but it is not noteworthy. The demand of window air-conditioners had almost came to a halt as it consumes too much electricity, which leads to higher bills and even unaffordable for many consumers.