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Due to the soaring demand for cleaner air, air purifiers will become the new growth driver for the country's sluggish home appliance industry, according to the China Household Electrical Appliances Association.
Sales of air cleaners reached 3 million units last year, a year-on-year surge of nearly 50 percent, while in 2011, sales were at 1.94 million units, up more than 20 percent year-on-year, the association said.
According to CIConsulting, China's home appliance industry has been suffering a downturn since 2011, after nearly 10 years of rapid growth, as a result of rising costs and oversupply.
However, air purifier sales are offering some hope.
"Since the smog started to hit most parts of the country in late 2011, sales of air purifiers have grown rapidly, both online and offline," said Xu Dongsheng, secretary general of the association.
The sales revenue of air purifiers at Suning.com - the website of the country's largest retail chain by revenue - reached 30 million yuan ($4.9 million) on average each month from January to April. Total sales of air purifiers in the first four months were up 170 percent year-on-year, the retail giant said.
"Since October last year, sales of air purifiers have seen a dramatic increase," said Qu Wenchao, sales manager of Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd, China's second-largest retailer of electrical appliances by revenue. "Sales between October 2012 and April jumped around 200 percent year-on-year."
A major manufacturer echoed that view.
"The demand for air purifiers has been on the rise in China, due to increasing awareness of health and environmental issues," said Dai Yong, vice-president of Sharp China. "Doctors are warning that thick pollutants cause asthma, cardiovascular disease and cancer."