LAHORE  - While the scorching heat started discomforting the citizens, the prices of air-conditioners, air/water coolers, UPS and electric batteries have increased up to 10 to 20 percent, a latest survey revealed.

Prolonged hours of power shutdowns amidst swelling temperature have compelled the people to buy such appliances. But, according to many shopkeepers, the market is witnessing a decreasing trend of sale due to the high prices of electric appliances and other related products, disappointing the low-income segment of society.

On the other hand, the companies are manufacturing these products in abundance despite the less demand in the market as compared to previous years.

Haji Muhammad Ali, a shopkeeper told this scribe the manufacturers compelled the retailers to increase prices of these goods due to unusual raise in raw material prices and other expenditures. He said the prices of almost all the metal items such as iron, silver, brass and copper increased up to 10 to 20 percent as compared to last year, which has forced the manufacturers to increase the rates of these products.

“The increase in oil prices also forced the manufactures to increase prices in spite of poor purchasing power of the consumers,” Ali highlighted.

The prices of air-conditioners and coolers increased from 5 to 10 percent in only two months - March to May - this year. He said the traders, dealing in raw material, used to increase prices even before the beginning of summer season, which is the main reason of increasing prices.

Initially, prices of locally manufactured air-coolers were ranging from Rs5500 to Rs12000, which now start from Rs6000 and reach Rs14000, whereas the prices of air-coolers fitted with the China-made water pumps ranged from Rs5000 to Rs10000 with only one-season warranty, he told this scribe.

However, prices of split units and window air-conditions varied according to the brand and an average quality split unit is available from Rs 35,000 to 47,000, while an average quality window air-conditioner cost around Rs40,000, he added.

Another shopkeeper, Saleem, said the manufacturing cost also increased due to hike in electricity tariffs along with the factory expenditures and wages of labour, which has almost doubled as compared to last year. He added there is a vast range of variety of summer items including locally manufactured air-conditioners, split units and air-coolers which are although expensive but durable as compared to the products imported from China which are available in abundance but comparatively on cheap rates.

This reporter has witnessed that with the increase in electricity tariff, demand of windows air-conditions also declined with the passage of time. On the other side, the branded and imported split units are available at the price ranging from Rs50,000 to 85,000 this season, which is about 10 to 20 percent higher as compared to previous year.

Nauman Ahmad, a trader of electric goods in Abid Market, said the unaffordable prices have forced the low-income consumers to purchase second hand items.

Moreover, the prices Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and dry cell batteries are skyrocketing in the provincial capital and the manufacturers are fleecing the consumers by taking advantage of countrywide power shortage.

Our survey shows the prices of gadgets have been steadily rising over last couple of weeks. The price of a locally made UPS of 1000KV, which is being manufactured in small workshops by some unqualified electricians or technicians, has increased from Rs12,000-14000 to Rs17,000-Rs 25,000.

A 130 amp dry battery, which was priced Rs 8,000 up until last month, is now being sold for Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,2000 and above.

On the other hand, the prices of high quality and famous brands devices, especially of UPS, are going beyond the purchasing power of the common man; only those who are well off could buy such luxury cum essential product.

It was witnessed during the survey that a large variety of branded UPS and dry-cell batteries are available in the markets especially in the major markets of electronic goods such as Abid Market, Mazang and Hall Road market with different rates starting from Rs30,000 to Rs45,000, but some opportunist traders are earning millions of rupees by overcharging.

The dealers of these famous brands of UPS are selling the items on different rates, owing to the huge margin in these products which have become an essential need to be a substitute of electricity.

The market is also facing an ‘artificial shortage’ of parts of locally manufactured UPS and batteries, because a handful of dealers have formed a cartel to manipulate prices. Customers are complaining that even the higher-priced and locally manufactured UPS do not always work well and have a tendency to break down, the prices of spare parts are also soaring up.

Consumers also complained that most UPS manufacturers are using silver wires in the transformers instead of heavy-duty copper wire.

A silver wire UPS has a short life span and cannot withstand long spells of power outages, heating up and burning away rather quickly.