The coronavirus has now claimed the lives of 2,700 people worldwide. While most of those deaths have taken place in mainland China, there are now 80,000 cases of coronavirus around the world, including 280 new cases in Italy in just the last week. Meanwhile, 970 cases have been reported in South Korea along with another 95 cases in Iran.
So far, the World Health Organization hasn't declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic, but Amazon ($AMZN) sales data shows that shoppers are beginning to prepare for whatever lies ahead.
Standard surgical masks do little or nothing to protect from the coronavirus, but N95 respirators have been shown to be effective. As we reported two weeks ago, sales for the specialized masks are already charting at Amazon.
But now it looks as though vendors are beginning to flood the Amazon marketplace with N95 masks.
At the end of January, when N95 masks were first identified as being effective against the virus, the number of available masks on Amazon jumped from 1 to 38 individual items. Within days, however, that number dropped back to just 7 by February 18, likely as the items sold out.
At the end of January, when N95 masks were first identified as being effective against the virus, the number of available masks on Amazon jumped from 1 to 38 individual items.
But now the number of N95 masks for order (not actual stock, but individual products) has jumped back to 26 in what appears to be a money grab on the part of marketplace vendors.
And they're selling: since November, the average sales rank for face masks at Amazon has moved from 90.85 out of 100 to 36.1 by February.
While the masks may be a good money maker, and they may be effective against the coronavirus, potential shoppers should be forewarned: these are respirators, and not typical surgical masks, meaning that they are tough to seal and tough to use for extended periods.
Amazon has reportedly been trying to curb price gouging, but we'll keep you updated on anything more in the future. Be safe out there.
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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