Cold temps, oil delivery delays lead to surge in space heater sales

Staff photo by Hope M. Hunt The shelves of Walmart in Amherst are nearly picked clean of space heaters on Saturday in the wake the blizzard and accompanying cold snap. The units remaining on the shelves are primarily the lower-priced ceramic heaters, which are limited in terms of heat output.

With the lingering cold snap many hardware retailers are reporting an increase in sales of space heaters and other heating devices.

Nashua’s ACE Hardware location is one of those locations. It’s been hard to keep the store fully stocked during this stretch of cold weather.

“We actually just got heaters back in, we were out like everyone else,” ACE Hardware owner Charles Katis said. “With this weather and having people need heaters, we sent a truck to the ACE warehouse in Wilton, New York, which is about a four-hour ride, and we replenished so we could serve the community and help out in the cold times.”

He said along with the uptick in space heaters they’ve also seen an increase in the sale of heat tape, generators, propane and kerosene.

“This weather has been really brutal and we started seeing people with frozen pipes among other problems,” Katis said.

ACE isn’t the only place to see its heaters flying off the shelves.

Hudson True Value Hardware owner Greg Rioux said it was right before the new year when he started seeing an increase in sales for the heating products. He said they’ve sold a lot of kerosene heaters, maybe 40 to 50 of them and even had to restock.

“We sold out of heat tape,” Rioux said. “Basically it’s been steady with a few days that were out of control. We’ve been steadily busy every day since I’d say early December.”

Belletetes, Inc. – a building product specialty store in Nashua – is also seeing an increase in heater and heating accessory sales.

“We’re going through them like crazy,” hardware manager Bob Jenkins said.

After selling out in a little more than one day with the most recent storm that struck the city, Jenkins had to call in reinforcements. A truck came by Saturday to restock the shelves at Belletetes.

“In a short span we sold maybe 30 to 35 heaters,” Jenkins said, “where as in a normal winter we may sell 25 total.”

According to Jenkins, Belletetes also has seen an increase in heat tape sales. As the temperatures dropped the store has sold a good amount to people trying to keep their pipes warm.

Reports throughout the region of delayed oil deliveries or oil reserves running low also play a role in the space heater craze.

“One precipitates the other,” Jenkins said. “The cold weather we’ve had precipitates heater and heat tape sales.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206