Fine dust pollution reshapes local home appliance market


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Amid deteriorating air quality in South Korea, air purifiers and clothes dryers have become more popular in the nation’s home appliance market, market data showed Tuesday. 

According to local discount store chain E-mart, sales of air purifiers from Jan. 1 to 20 jumped 180 percent compared to the same period last year. Sales of air purifiers ranked eighth this month in the home appliance category.

In light of concerns over air quality, home appliances that reduce exposure to dust, such as air purifiers, have become a staple in Korean homes. 

Demand for appliances that keep clothes clean in a convenient way has also made clothes dryers and steam closets popular. 

Masks are sold out at a retail store in Seoul. (Yonhap)

E-mart said sales of steam closets grew 107.6 percent for the first 20 days of January compared to last year. Over the same period, sales of clothes dryers grew 35.7 percent on-year. These two home appliances ranked 10th and sixth, respectively, in terms of sales in January. 

For the first time, sales of clothes dryers surpassed that of washing machines last year. 

Clothes dryers, or tumble dryers, are considered convenient options for days with severe air pollution and bad weather, as clothes do not have to be hung out to dry. The amount of electricity used by such appliances is also lower than what most people assume, according to manufacturers. It costs about 117 won (10 cents) to 130 won per cycle.

Korean tech giants like LG and Samsung currently dominate the clothes dryer business in terms of market share, with at least 1.3 million clothes dryers sold last year, according to industry data. 

Steam closets — used by hanging a piece of clothing inside to be steam cleaned — have become alternatives to traditional washers for those seeking to reduce laundry loads. They are promoted as being able to remove odors, reduce wrinkles and keep clothes clean by vibrating clothes 180 times per minute.

“Air purifiers and clothes dryers were regarded as seasonal products, but these two appliances have now become essentials at home. Fine dust has been changing the home appliance industry,” said an official from E-mart.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)


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