Portable Cooling Begins To Gain Sales Traction

NEW YORK— Temperatures are on the rise across the country, and as a result, sales are heating up in portable cooling products, including air conditioners and fans.

Suppliers reported that the season got off to a somewhat slow start, due in part to cooler weather in the Eastern states, but also as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and states’ stay-at-home orders. Although the global pandemic kept shoppers out of the stores, suppliers said many shifted to online buying, sending sales soaring at e-commerce retailers.

“The COVID 19 pandemic has been the most impactful development affecting our sales this selling season,” noted Jennifer Thomas, category manager, home comfort, DeLonghi. “Every company is facing the same challenge, but where the majority of our sales would typically occur in store for portable air conditioners, it has now shifted to online. Our sales are generally doing very well and I believe that is due to two things: one, great long-standing relationships with key distribution; and two, online web page content was set up far in advance maximizing any opportunities for advanced content.”

Thomas added, “We do attribute a slower than normal start to the season to the cooler weather, however, we have seen that pick up as the weather gets warmer. We have shifted a few promotions to be in warmer months, but generally we are not doing anything differently. Longer term, we plan to maximize online enhanced content so we are able to supply the customers with great information despite their ability to go to a store and shop.”

DeLonghi is spotlighting its model PACEX390LVYN, which features a new “Cool Surround Smart Sensing” feature. The smart Bluetooth remote monitors temperature, humidity, and the user’s position in the room, adjusting automatically to maintain optimal surroundings. The portable air conditioner is exclusive to Amazon and sells for $599.95.

“It is very early in the portable air conditioning season, but early indicators would tell us we are going to have a decent season,” Thomas said. “We will have different pockets of heat throughout the country based on the weather forecasting services, so we anticipate the need for portable air conditioners to continue throughout the summer.”

Emerson Quiet Kool debuted a new outdoor portable air conditioner this season, designed to cool up to a 100 square foot space.

“As soon as the country lifts the lockdown, consumers will start buying outdoor gear to enhance their outdoor activities after months of getting stuck at home,” said Jack Zheng, Home Easy’s marketing and sales director, noting that the new 1,000-BTU unit is ideal for camping grounds, job sites, mini offices or wherever cooling is needed for tight spaces. In addition to keeping consumers cool and comfortable, the product also features a USB port for phone and mobile device charging, a light for night use, and Bluetooth to link a mobile phone to a built-in speaker.

The Emerson Quiet Kool air conditioner will be exclusively distributed by Almo Corp., and launched on Amazon, Home Depot, Best Buy and other e-commerce sites. Retail price is $499.

Midea America registered an uptick in sales due to people working at home during the crisis, according to trade marketing manager Susan Lanza.

“The cooling category has always been driven by the weather, and this year we are witnessing warmer weather earlier in Western states,” she noted. “In the East, most notably around New York City but also in the Southeast, most people have been encouraged to stay home, and a large portion of the workforce is getting ready for a summer working from home, which has driven demand for all things related to comfort at home, from home office tech to air conditioners.”

Lanza added, “There’s also a strong push in e-commerce and the omnichannel experience some retailers can deliver, which seems to be accelerating the already ongoing trend for shopping online. Retailers that are stepping up to deliver a better online experience are ahead of the game. We still expect June-July-August to bring seasonably warm weather and with the reopening of most of the country, we’re getting ready for a strong cooling season.”

Midea is offering a range of new cooling options, including the SmartCool line of portable air conditioners that deliver fast, effective cooling for spaces up to 375 square feet while simultaneously providing fan and dehumidification functions. The SmartCool units can be controlled from anywhere using Midea’s smartphone app, and also can be paired with Alexa or with Google Assistant to use voice commands.

“We expect a great season,” Lanza said. “Apart from our Midea portable air conditioners and Pelonis portable fans, we’re also getting great feedback on the Midea U, our latest product launch that brings a new concept to the window air conditioner segment.” The Midea U features a U-shaped design that blocks most of the running noise; the design also allows the user to open and shut windows with the unit installed. New inverter technology allows users to achieve up to 35% energy savings, the company said.

Other home comfort suppliers also expect increasing sales due to consumers continuing to work from home.

“With more people working from home due to the pandemic and lockdown orders earlier this year, NewAir saw an increase in portable cooling business as consumers sought to invest in home improvement items for their home office or living room,” noted Kate Rogers, marketing representative, NewAir. “We are expanding our entire cooling line, which means more portable air conditioning units, evaporative coolers, misting fans and high-velocity fans. Our new range offers cooling products for residential and commercial uses.”

“NewAir started its business online,” Rogers added. “This has served us well over the last couple of months, as we have had a strong online infrastructure and presence in place to meet the increase in online shopping due to the lockdown. This year, our portable cooling category is performing better than expected and sales have not slowed down.”