Stores running low on AC units as Vancouver hit with first wave of summer heat

Metro Vancouver is experiencing its first stretch of hot summer weather this weekend and people are scouring stores looking for air conditioners and fans to cool off – some being met with empty shelves.

Sharina Seseene and Tyler Lotzeselle, a couple who recently moved to Vancouver from Edmonton, said they went to three stores looking for a portable AC unit.

"At Home Depot, they don't have any in stock anymore. So, we found this at Canadian Tire," said Seseeme, pointing to her new unit.

They consider themselves lucky to have found one in time.

"We heard last year it was a hot summer, so we're just getting ahead of it," said Lotzeselle.

And they're not the only ones getting ahead.

Thomas Lai, the general manager of Vancouver's Visions Electronics, said he's received dozens of inquiries over the last few days from customers looking to purchase an air conditioner.

"I would say anywhere between 30 to 40 phonecalls a day. When it gets really hot, it can go up to hundreds," he said.

His store only started selling AC units a few years ago after he noticed an increased demand.

"The weather is just getting unpredictable, but I think it's going that way. It's getting hotter and hotter every year now," said Lai.

Even then, not many were prepared for last year's record-breaking heat dome that killed more than 600 British Columbians.

"Last year, we didn't have enough stock. So that's why this year, we have a lot more to get ready for the rush," Lai said.

Some local residents are taking advantage of these warm temperatures and upselling their AC units online.

The Tosot Portable Air Conditioner sells for $649.99 on the Best Buy website, but one seller on Facebook Marketplace tried selling it used for $1500 before marking it down to $500.

Many businesses expect to sell out of their AC units in the next few weeks and urge customers to purchase one immediately before they run out.