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Appliance Shoppers Gobble Up Federal Stimulus Rebates

By: Monée Fields-White April 16, 2010

(Crain’s) — Illinois shoppers are snapping up the federal cash-for-appliances rebates.

Shoppers sliced the $6.2-million fund by more than half in the first five hours the 15% rebate was on offer Friday, according to the Illinois Retail Merchants Assn. That amounts to just over $20 million in appliance sales.

Mike Abt, president of Glenview-based Abt Electronics & Appliance, said his store saw the biggest jump in sales since his grandparents founded the company in 1936.

About 1,000 shoppers were lined up around the store as early as 4 a.m., waiting for the doors to open at 7 a.m. “It was a madhouse this morning,” Mr. Abt said.

David Vite, president of the trade association, estimates Illinois appliance retailers likely will see about $42 million in total sales.

“Our expectation is that the money is going to be gone today,” said Mr. Vite. “This is a stimulus to get some consumers spending, which would get some dollars in circulation and help the overall economy.”

Illinois received a total of $12.4 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to implement two phases of the program. The first segment offers rebates on water heaters and heating and cooling equipment.

More than 600 retailers throughout the state are participating in the second phase of the program, which applies to energy-efficient washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and air conditioners. Consumers also can receive another $75 mail-in rebate for any old appliance that gets picked up for recycling.

In the federal program, states are allowed to set their own rules. In Illinois, retailers give customers the instant 15% discount, up to $400 per item. Once the program ends, the retailer will be reimbursed by the state.

Copyright © 2010 Crain Communications, Inc.