It’s heaven and hell for home appliances in corona crisis

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It’s heaven and hell for home appliances in corona crisis

The consumer electronics market is experiencing mixed performance scores as the coronavirus outbreak drags down consumption.

While home appliance stores sit empty, sales of gadgets that claim to have disinfection functions, such as clothes steamers and air purifiers, have increased dramatically.

LG Electronics said Thursday its steam clothing care system, Tromm Styler, hit a new record in sales last month, up 30 percent compared with the same period last year. Sales of larger models with a capacity of up to six items of clothing increased by 50 percent, propelling that growth.

Sales of Samsung’s at-home clothes management system, the Air Dresser, also skyrocketed, up by 80 percent last month on year.

“Such increases in sales were due to a mix of different factors - the increase in market size for clothes management systems, higher demand for stylers with large volume and the prolonged coronavirus outbreak,” LG Electronics said.

Dehydrators that have sanitization functions are also in vogue.

Samsung said 10,000 units of its new dehydrator Grande AI were sold in just a month after its official release in January - a rate double that of its previous model. LG Electronics said the number on the reservations list waiting for its new dehydrator Steam ThinQ has surpassed expectations.

Water purifiers and air purifiers, the two items consumers tend to rent rather than own, have also been in the spotlight. Companies in the industry reported operating profits growing by 20 to 30 percent from January through February, compared with same period last year. Cuckoo Electronics saw a 25 percent increase in the number of customers signing up to rent its self-cleaning water purifier.

While such home appliances are proven to prevent ticks, bacteria and even influenza viruses similar to the coronavirus, companies can’t explicitly advertise their products for fighting the coronavirus as there’s no scientific proof to back it up.

“The heightened awareness for personal hygiene and the public’s anxiety over the virus outbreak seem to have influenced consumer sentiment,” said an industry source.

February to March is considered the peak season for home appliances brands, as demand spikes from newlywed couples and college students looking for home appliances to furnish their spaces.

The home appliance industry seems to be out of its element due to the coronavirus outbreak, as more couples are postponing their weddings and people avoid visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Lotte Hi-Mart, a discount home appliance chain of Lotte Group, said visitors to its offline stores dropped by 30 percent during the same period last year.

TV manufacturers took a hard blow. Sales of televisions are predicted to shrink on a global scale, by 9 percent for the first half of the year, according to research firm IHS Markit.

Samsung and LG both released new models earlier this year, expecting to profit from a surge in demand ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

But there are hardly any customers visiting their offline stores, the two companies said, presenting a huge problem for the industry. Online sales tend to follow the trends of offline consumers.

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