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Illinois' $3M In Appliance Rebates Snapped Up In Hours

By: Brigid Sweeney
September 24, 2010

(Crain's) — Illinois retailers burned through a state program offering $3.6 million in rebates toward energy-efficient appliances, exhausting the fund in 2½ hours Friday morning.

The state's 15% rebate on dishwashers, washing machines, freezers and refrigerators ended by 10:30 a.m., according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Shoppers snapped up more than 27,000 appliances and retailers rang up sales totaling about $25 million.

Even the retailers underestimated how quickly the rebates would go.

A salesman at Abt Electronics in Glenview said his colleagues initially estimated that the money would run out by 2 p.m. Shortly after 8 a.m., he predicted it running dry by noon.

When Abt's doors opened at 8 a.m. hundreds of people were lined up, encircling the building and filling the store. The salesman said the crowd was even bigger than when the same rebate was offered for the first time in April.

On Friday, said Abt President Mike Abt, "People were lined up before 5. We did two days of business in the first 2½ hours."

"This made Black Friday look like a Tuesday in July," added Illinois Retail Merchants Assn. President and CEO David Vite. "Sales have never been so brisk in Illinois."

The first rebate program in April went through $6.2 million in rebates in 11 hours. 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 offered rebates on water heaters and heating and cooling equipment.

The federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act program allowed states to set their own rules. In Illinois, retailers gave customers an instant 15% discount at the register, up to $250 per item, with the state reimbursing retailers after the program ended.

Copyright © 2010 Crain Communications, Inc.