BEIJING — Seared by the scorching sun outside his apartment in Beijing, Zhang Peng took out a bottle of clear liquid from his backpack and sprayed the contents over his upper body. The 29-year-old immediately shuddered from the chill caused by the liquid, which has peppermint extracts to refresh users on hot days.
“My cousin introduced me to it the other day, and I liked its cooling effect,” said Zhang, who spent 40 yuan ($6) for a spray bottle on Taobao, a Chinese online marketplace.
Zhang is among a growing number of consumers who have been shopping online for innovative ways to beat the heat during the recent sticky weather, which is expected to last until August 10 in many parts of China, according to the National Meteorological Centre.
Watermelon is a traditional summer treat in China. And now there’s a handy hot-selling gizmo that lets users slice the entire fruit into several sections with a single motion, becoming among the top-three items sold on Taobao this summer, going for around 10 to 50 yuan a pop.
Seat cushions and throw pillows that can be filled with cool water are also selling like hot cakes, as well as body patches that claim to repel mosquitoes.
One of these cushions retailing for 115 yuan on JD.com got top ratings from some 150 satisfied－and presumably cool－buyers who left comments on the platform. Some 16,000 anti-mosquito patches were sold on an average day in June, according to Taobao.
A mask called a “facekini”, which first hit the market in 2004, has seen a spike in popularity among swimmers and beachgoers looking to prevent sunburn.
The mask covers the face, but reveals the eyes, nose and mouth, and is available in various colors, priced between 5 and 50 yuan. Its sales in June more than doubled compared with the same period last year, Taobao said.
Mini rubber thimbles are available that allow wearers to scroll up and down their handset screens without worrying about sweat gumming up the works.
A lightweight flexible tube that can be affixed to an air conditioner in an adjacent room can help cool down any location where people gather.
According to Taobao, there were 1.5 million quirky cooling-product orders in June, twice the number seen a year earlier. The platform predicted that as temperatures rise, 30,000 more orders will be added for every extra degree.
Buyers of such products are mainly concentrated in the country’s north, central and southeast, as these regions have been the most plagued by heat waves so far this year, Taobao said.
Despite the recent Typhoon Ampil and torrential downpours that usually bring respite from the heat, many regions have seen temperatures hover over 35 C in the last few weeks.
On Wednesday, the National Meteorological Centre renewed its yellow alert, the lowest level in a three-tier warning system for high temperatures. It was the 12th heat warning since July 14.
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