With the arrival of yellow dust, retailers see gold

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With the arrival of yellow dust, retailers see gold

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The yellow dust that wafts into Korea from China each spring causing an uptick in respiratory distress also significantly boosts sales of face masks, hand sanitizers, mouthwash, soap, wet wipes, contact lens cleaners and other related items.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, many areas of the country have been dealing with yellow dust since mid-January, and from Thursday through Saturday, the average concentration of dust in Seoul was 338 micrograms per cubic meter.

Seoul and Suwon, Gyeonggi, recorded the highest concentration of dust last week at 413 micrograms per cubic meter, and all provinces except Gangwon recorded dust levels in excess of 200 micrograms per cubic meter. The concentration of heavy metals was also 17 times higher than usual during the three-day period.

When the dust arrived, consumers immediately reacted by purchasing goods to try to protect themselves.

The country’s largest convenience store chain, CU, said its sales of masks soared 44.5 percent, hand sanitizers 40.2 percent and mouthwash 38.1 percent during January and February, compared to the same months last year. Sales of soap soared 30.6 percent, wet wipes 33.9 percent and contact lens cleaner 25.7 percent.

Sales of these items also rose at GS25 stores last Thursday through Saturday, when the dust and haze dramatically increased during the day. Sales of masks at GS25 stores soared 65.8 percent, mouthwash 28.5 percent and contact lens cleaner 19.7 percent compared to the same days two weeks earlier.

Mask sales jumped 33 percent on Thursday, 61.6 percent on Friday and then 70.6 percent on Saturday.

“As the yellow dust could appear anytime, we will maintain an adequate stock,” said Kim Ji-yong, managing director of hygiene products at GS Retail.

Online shopping malls Auction and GMarket saw similar sales increases

At Auction, sales of dust-related supplies, including air purifiers, increased by more than 60 percent year-on-year last week. Mask sales were up 70 percent.

Air purifiers featuring bacteriostatic and antimicrobial functions were popular at the online shopping mall.

In addition, demand for related products to avoid dust such as stroller covers and children’s capes also increased.

Meanwhile, demand for air-purifying plants increased 30 percent at Auction. Rose Herb and Ivy, famous for purifying the air with their high anion exchange, were especially popular.


By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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