Korean consumer habits are reflecting their fear over the recent outbreak of the MERS virus.
According to convenience store chain 7-Eleven, sales of the following items have seen a marked increase over the period of May 28 to June 3, during which five more people have been diagnosed with the virus.
1. Masks (710.6 percent increase)
Masks have seen a 710.6 percent increase in sales over this time period, making it the hottest selling item at the moment. This popular item has been selling as fast as store owners can take them out of the box, making them quite scarce.
Celebrities are no exception. f(x)‘s Victoria, BEAST’s Gikwang, actors Jo Eun Ji and Jisoo, Block B’s Zico, and singer Song Yu Bin have posted shots of themselves donning masks to their personal SNS accounts.
Stock prices of mask manufacturing companies have risen, with KPM Tech’s stock trading at 7370 won per share on the KOSDAQ on June 4. Stocks for OKONG and KM have also continued their rise over the last four days.
2. Hand Sanitizer (488.9 percent increase)
Following advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical professionals to keep one’s hands clean, hand sanitizer is selling like hot cakes.
3. Petroleum Jelly (121 percent increase)
Petroleum jelly comes in at number three after unsubstantiated claims began circulating, mainly through SNS, that the substance is an easy and cheap remedy to prevent influenza and other viruses. The claim is that a virus, which is water-soluble and spreads through the air, will stick to vaseline if applied inside the nose because of its fat-soluble, sticky consistency.
4. Lunch Boxes (95.4 percent increase)
Sales of lunch boxes have increased among worried citizens returning home earlier to avoid catching the virus. They are especially popular among singles and those who live alone.
5. Home Meal Replacement (84.6 percent increase)
Like lunch boxes, home replacement meals are selling better as people do what they can to avoid public places.
6. Red Ginseng Hanburi (54.2 percent increase)
Made from red ginseng and touted as good for the immune system, this beverage has seen a 54.2 percent sales increase over the May 28-June 3 period.