Sales of dust masks, air purifiers spike on murky air

SEOUL-- Sales of dust masks and air purifiers soared in South Korea as citizens become increasingly concerned about seasonal fine and yellow dust here, industry data showed Tuesday.

Originating from deserts in southern Mongolia and northern China, the dust has been a source of concern here, particularly in the spring.

The worst fine dust of 2017 has blanketed much of South Korea recently, forcing the country's weather service agency to issue health warnings against the sandy, chemical-laden wind from the Asian mainland.

When these warnings or advisories are issued, it is recommended that people stay indoors or wear protective masks if they need to venture outside.

According to the data, sales of dust masks at CU stores, a convenience store chain, have surged 84 percent since April 1, with sales of wet tissues and hand sanitizers also spiking.

"Fine dust and yellow dust-related products sell well regardless of season," said Choe Yoo-jung, an official at BGF Retail Co., the operator of CU outlets.

Sales of dust masks at E-Mart, the country's top discount retailer, also more than doubled during the May 1-7 period, with Ticket Monster, one of the country's major e-commerce sites, witnessing a 7.6-fold rise in the orders this month compared to a year earlier.

Among the best-selling items are air purifiers. Sales of air purifiers at Lotte Hi Mart, a major electronic goods vendor, surged 2.5-fold last month from a year earlier. Sales of products at E-Mart and Hyundai Department Store also spiked 233 percent and 56.8 percent, respectively, over the cited period, the data showed.

Amid concerns over air quality, sales of clothes dryers have surged in South Korea as well, with demand to hit a new high this year amid concerns over air quality, the data showed.

For one, sales of clothes dryers at the online shopping mall 11th Street have risen 8-fold since April 1.

The domestic sales of the clothes drying machines are anticipated to reach around 600,000 units in 2017, up by at least fivefold from the previous year.

A clothes dryer had been considered one of the last home appliances a consumer would buy in Korea, due to the long-held perception that laundry should be hung on racks to dry under sunlight.

But there has been a shift in the common belief, as a change in the climate stemming from seasonal fine dust has sent hygiene-conscious consumers scrambling to install clothes dryers at home.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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