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Coronavirus fears send N95 face masks up Amazon's sales ranks

3 weeks ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Consumer

As the coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, continues to claim victims and makes its way around the globe, worried shoppers are beginning to do what they can to avoid becoming infected or spreading the outbreak.

Most advice from professionals so far has been a lot like what they may say about avoiding the flu: wash your hands often with soap, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and cover your nose when you sneeze.

Meanwhile, they say that standard medical face masks will do little to nothing to protect you against the new virus. However, a specialized mask is known as an "N95 respirator" can, and Amazon ($NASDAQ:AMZN) sales rank data shows that consumers are buying them up like never before.

While N95 respirators have sold on and off since last spring, beginning in January they began crawling up Amazon's best-seller ranks. Meanwhile, more iterations of N95s showed up in Amazon's top-100, from an average of just one of them hitting the top ranks to as many as 30 on January 22.

Experts warn that while N95 respirators can help protect against the new coronavirus, they're thicker than surgical masks and they can be challenging to seal and wear for long periods of time. In other words, they're not terribly practical.

That doesn't appear to be stopping Amazon shoppers from ordering them, however.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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