Concern that the thick smog lingering over North China may pose serious health threats has boosted sales of air cleaning products across the nation.
Demand for humidifiers, air purifiers, masks and related items has skyrocketed since November, and merchants are expecting it to keep growing this month.
“The growth demonstrably outpaced that of other home appliances, and the rise is largely attributable to the recent air pollution,” Zhao said.
Though the gloomy weather is spread over northern China, especially Beijing, “We see in general an equal surge in demand in different parts of the country, and we believe the numbers will continue to rise until the end of the year,” she said.
Chang Zhonghua, a lab examiner at a pharmaceutical factory in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, said she had to wear a mask every day because of the poor air quality.
“I also spread bamboo charcoal bags around my home and in my car to purify the air. I don’t know whether this actually helps, or is simply a psychological comfort,” she said.
On Taobao.com, Alibaba.com,the country’s biggest online marketplace by registered users, air cleaning products such as air purifiers and humidifiers are the hottest search items on its homepage, said Qiao Peilei, a spokeswoman with Alibaba Group Holdings, the parent company of Taobao and Alibaba.com.
In the past 30 days, HYG Appliances, a Shenzhen-based electronics retailer, sold 5,541of one type of humidifier through its e-commerce channel on Tmall.com, the business-to-customer arm of Alibaba.
An HYG salesman said that’s three times the number sold last month and a 20 percent year-on-year increase. He added that 60 percent of the orders were delivered to Beijing and neighboring Hebei province.
“People snapped up air cleaning products because of the bad weather, and sales in one outlet in Beijing even doubled compared with this period last year,” Suning said in an e-mail.
Similarly, Gome Electrical Appliances, a major rival of Suning, saw air purifier and humidifier sales grow by 30 percent, said He Yangqing, Gome’s public relations director.
Tan Mingqi, a physician and chief of the respiratory department at Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, said common masks and air purifiers help prevent users from inhaling dust. But it’s equally important to clean them, he said.
China uses a standard of particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers (PM10) to measure air quality, but the public has urged authorities to adopt the stricter PM2.5 standard, which measures finer matter that is considered more hazardous to health because it can go deeper into the lungs.