Scorching weather prompts early spike in sales of ACs, parasols, sunscreens

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A parasol section at the Ginza Matsuya department store in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, is crowded with customers Thursday.

The recent heatwave in Japan has seen a shift in which products are selling well. Consumers are also opting for more energy-efficient air conditioner models even though they are slightly more expensive.

Products for hot weather, such as parasols and sunscreens, have been selling well unusually early. Manufacturers are continuing production at full capacity to take advantage of the blazing summer heat.

The parasol section was already crowded with customers at the Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo’s Ginza district on Thursday.

“I came here to buy food but it’s so hot that I wanted to look at parasols,” said a 74-year-old woman. She bought a folding parasol.

Usually at this time of year, customers just check out sun umbrellas and only a few actually buy them. However, since this year’s rainy season ended very early, June’s sales of parasols were nearly three times higher than the same period last year. In response to their popularity, the department store moved the sale schedule forward to Friday.

Strong sunshine has also led to robust sales of sunscreens. The sales of three key sunscreen products from Shiseido’s Anessa brand from June 20 to 26 grew 50% year on year. Gel-type products with a smooth texture are popular, according to the cosmetics maker.

In the homewares market, bedclothes using fabric with a cool touch have sold well for the past week, according to furniture retailer Nitori Co.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A shop assistant sets a sunshade sheet on an air conditioner unit at the DCM Homac Oi Keibajomae store in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.

Energy efficiency

The air conditioner models that sell well have changed as people are asked to save power due to recent electricity shortages.

Major electronics retailer Bic Camera Inc. said that people are seeking models with better energy-saving performance, even though the models are more expensive, because they help reduce their monthly electricity bills.

Sales of air conditioners from June 20 to 26 doubled from the same period a year ago thanks to solid sales of high-priced products. Air conditioners for an about 11-square-meter room priced at more than ¥200,000 have so far sold well, according to the company.

“Since the weather has turned hot very quickly, many customers want us to install air conditioners right away. A surge in electricity charges apparently makes more consumers replace their air conditioners with more power-efficient models,” a Bic Camera official said.

Items to help increase energy efficiency are also grabbing consumers’ attention.

At the DCM Homac Oi Keibajomae store in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, the sales of sunshade sheets for outdoor air conditioner units from June 24 to 29 were four times higher than the same period a year earlier. The sunshade is said to prevent outdoor units from getting too hot and helps contain a decline in air-conditioning efficiency. “A growing awareness of energy saving lurks in the background,” a store official said.

Short supply

Due to the scorching weather, people’s interest has turned to materials and goods that do not usually attract much attention.

Attention is focused on heat-reflecting glass for windows. Major glass manufacturer AGC Inc. saw a surge in the number of visits to a website promoting the company’s heat-reflecting glass. The number increased by 50% in late June compared to mid-June.

The glass was originally developed by AGC. Since the surface of the glass is coated with a film containing silver, it reduces the transmission of outdoor heat into indoor spaces. Since the glass is thought to help increase air conditioning efficiency, it seems that not only building material makers but also general consumers are visiting the website.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. has seen its sales of cooling gel sheets rise about two weeks earlier than usual. Its shipment volume in the first half of 2022 increased 50% year on year. The company will continue to produce the sheets and other heatstroke-prevention goods at full capacity to meet demand.