Dust-busting products are flying off of retail shelves

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Dust-busting products are flying off of retail shelves


Consumers shop for sanitary goods to protect themselves from fine dust blowing in from China at Lotte Mart in Jamsil, southwestern Seoul, yesterday. Hot sellers are masks, soap, mouthwash and air purifiers. Provided by the company

As dust from China continues to waft into Korea, causing an uptick in respiratory distress, sales of face masks, soap, mouthwash and related items have increased significantly.

According to the retail industry yesterday, dust-protecting goods, the sales of which usually surge during the spring season due to smog from China, shot up more than fivefold this month from a year earlier. Sales of some products were 13 times higher.

E-Mart, the nation’s largest discount-store chain, said yesterday it has sold more than 2,000 dust masks since last month, nearly quadruple the number sold during the same period last year.

Sales of Cyclone Cleaner, which vacuums up fine dust, jumped fivefold and sales of air purifiers rose 60.6 percent in the past four days compared to last year, according to E-Mart.

At Lotte Mart, sales of masks surged 153.5 percent during the past four days from a year earlier and hand-wash products doubled to 138.3 percent.

“As the smog from China causes air quality to deteriorate, demand for products protecting health are rapidly increasing. We have doubled the amount of masks and expanded the shelves for sanitary products,” said Lee Sang-jae, product planner at Lotte Mart.

Online retailers are seeing an even bigger boost in demand. From Nov. 1 through Tuesday, sales of masks at Gmarket jumped 1,205 percent year-on-year, hand sanitizers 764 percent, vehicle air cleaners 59 percent and cleaning supplies rose 42 percent.

During the same period at 11st, mask sales jumped 110 percent and hand sanitizers soared 80 percent.

At Auction, sales of air purifiers surged 1,270 percent and masks 80 percent.

Convenience stores also have been cashing in on sales of dust-related items.

Sales of masks increased 57.5 percent at CU, the nation’s largest convenience store chain, followed by hand sanitizers (37.4 percent), oral cleaners (36.6 percent) and contact lens cleaners (22.7 percent).

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven reported that mask sales were up 37.8 percent year-on-year and cough drops increased 16.2 percent.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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