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Dry Spell to Whet Consumers' Appetite
The recent bad weather in Beijing may have been good for the sale of umbrellas but the demand for summer commodities suffered in the downpour.

However, according to Beijing Meteorological Bureau, the chronic precipitation hovering over the country's capital is about to end, Friday's China Daily said.

The temperature in the coming days is expected to rise to as high as 35 C, said the bureau.

This is good news for the sluggish summer market, where such commodities as air conditioners and some vegetables and fruits have felt the frostbite.

This is in contrast to wet-weather dealers, who took advantage of the unusually rainy weather to secure unexpected profits.

Intermittent rain has hit the city since June 21, which led to a sharp decline in temperature, with an average of 20.4 C - 5 centigrade lower than the same period last year. The precipitation increased by more than 30 per cent compared with that of last year.

"An average 90 air conditioning units were sold per day since the rainy season fell on the city; an acute decline in the sales volume compared to mid-June, when the number reached at least 700," a salesman of Guomei Electrical Appliance City, a renowned electrical appliances market in Beijing, said yesterday.

"But we have no plan to make concessions in prices, because the peak sales season has yet to come."

Fan Zhijun, deputy general manager of Suning Electrical Appliance Chain Store, said the daily sales volume of air conditioners in his chain store decreased by 15 per cent last week, adding that the most affected units were at the lower price range.

Before the onset of the rainy season, the daily sales volume stood at around 300 units, among which the lower-priced units accounted for 40 per cent; however, only 20 per cent of the 200-plus units sold out per day last week were at the lower price range, according to Fan.

Unlike air conditioners, the prices of some vegetables and fruits fluctuated as a direct result of the downpours in the past few days.

Statistics from Huandao (Ring Island) Vegetables and Fruits Wholesale Market indicated such fruits as lychee, banana and pineapple - mainly from the south of China - showed a 10 per cent rise in price.

A lychee-dealer said successive rain in the South blocked the channel to replenish stocks, which led to the price going up.

Yet a young watermelon dealer also complained of the wet weather, saying the deluges in the past few days crippled his expectations of earning more profit.

"The price of watermelon declined by more than 40 per cent, from its previous 1.8 yuan (US$0.22) per kilogram to 1 yuan (US$0.12) per kilogram at present," he said, adding the sales volume also keeps falling.

(Xinhua News Agency July 5, 2002)

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