- At least Stage 2 or 3 load shedding is expected to be a constant headache for households in the next few years.
- Retailers are expecting demand for inverters, generators and gas appliances to increase, but can't guarantee shortages down the line.
- South Africans are also looking for solar options, while batteries are also on the shopping list of many customers.
- For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.
With SA bracing itself for the likelihood of ongoing load shedding for the foreseeable future, retailers are gearing up for a surge in demand for inverters, generators and gas appliances.
Major retailers canvassed by News24 have all increased their volumes anticipating an uptick in demand as consumers try to adapt to a world of constant power supply disruptions.
But even anticipating an uptick in demand does not mean there will not be a shortage of items such as inverters and generators down the line.
French-headquartered DIY group Leroy Merlin, which has been operating in SA for the past six years, years said this week that even with forecasts in place with suppliers, its current supply of generators and inverters is erratic, as demand has increased.
"Stock is secured as soon as it is available," a spokesperson told News24. New stock lands at least once a week.
READ | Builders flags shortage of inverters due to Stage 6 load shedding in July and October
At the same time, South Africans are looking at other options to cope with power supply interruptions, including solar options, which may ultimately also affect the demand for inverters and generators.
The company said that while it foresaw increased demand for inverters and generators after the announcement of continued load shedding over the next two years, it was also cognisant of the increasing popularity of other solutions in the market, including the renting of solar and other solar leasing options.
"We are still, however, pursuing new options that will allow us to increase the product offering in store as well as have a more consistent supply of stock should the demand continue. We will also focus more effort on advising customers on the right products to purchase."
Game, which is run by Walmart-owned Massmart, has also seen an uptick in demand for products that help consumers cope with intermittent power supply.
André Steyn, vice president of Game, said there had been a definite increase in the demand for affordable solutions for load shedding.
Steyn said Game’s current top selling items were rechargeable lanterns, Ryobi 2.7kW and Ryobi 5.5kW generators, as well as surge adapters.
Game has also seen a significant in interest in its gas stoves and other products, with Game’s vice president of marketing, Katherine Madley, saying that between November and January to date it had reported a 43% increase in sales of two-plate gas stoves and a 63% sales increase for 9kg gas cylinders.
Off the grid
Janet Booysen, marketing head at Builders, which is also owned by Massmart, said the brand was focused on partnering with its international and local suppliers to meet the demand for inverters and generators and other products, adding that it had "solutions for every stage and every customer type" - from battery back-up to complete off-the-grid solutions.
Shoprite, meanwhile, said it stocked a limited range of generators - including both 2 500W and 5 000W Schultz petrol generators - at its Checkers Hyper stores, and that over time the group had increased its volumes and ranges on load shedding-related products, including candles, paraffin, gas bottles, emergency lights, kettle braais and surge protectors. It also said that alternative energy sources for cooking and lighting had become essential during load shedding.
It also said that select Checkers Hyper stores also had UPS inverter trolleys available, though demand has been limited.
Pick n Pay said it had increased its supply of generators and lighting options, and also introduced new power devices and inverter options.