Saturday, March 28, 2020

2. Face Mask research. Sales of face masks in Singapore in March 2020

Sales of face masks

Saturday 28 March 2020.

For the past one month, I did a survey on face masks in Singapore shopping malls and neighbourhood shops. These are my findings:

1. SURGICAL FACE MASKS.

1.1 Watson, Guardian and Unity Pharmacies are out of stock of all surgical masks for at least one month. They are still out of stock. Last fortnight, I saw a queue buying surgical face masks from Watson at Northpoint Mall. Within one hour, the stock was out.

1.2  Hospitals and dental clinics have no problem getting the regulated surgical masks as they order in bulk and have contracts. Frontline health workers change masks twice a day at work, before and after lunch. Their mask quality has certain standards unlike the ones sold in neighbourhood shops and malls.

1.3  Neighbourhood shops. Very few do sell surgical masks imported from Vietnam and Thailand. I was referred to the only one near the Tiong Bahru wet market. The "surgical masks" were sold at $8.00 for a packet of 10. "Take it or leave it," the proprietor seemed stressed. One shop in Toa Payoh Lor 7 sells similar packets at $7.00 for 10 pieces.

1.4  Retail shops in malls. Very few do sell surgical mask. Venus beauty product retail shops sell face masks now and then, but was out of stock in its Seletar Mall branch when I visited on Monday 23 March 2020.

1.5  One or two retail shops in the Waterway Point Mall and Northpoint Mall sell surgical masks.
The price is $49.90 for a box of 50. One sells children's masks for similar prices. All these masks are not regulated or certified by the recognized international bodies. Prices are now $1.00 per mask!

2. "N95" FACE MASK.

2.1 Last week I saw "N95 "respirator face masks (Woorhitech Face Masks) being sold in OG departmental store. "We have only 200", the salesgirl told me.

2.2 One importer with contact in Vietnam N95 distributes face masks. But I cannot find the retail shops.

3. POLYURETHANE FACE MASKS

3.1  Choice (ex-Singapore Petroleum Company) Petrol Stations used to sell Pitta Masks (made in Japan) at $6.90 for 3 in a packet. That was one month ago. No stock when I asked the Toa Payoh Lor 6 branch.

3.2. Challenger shops in 2 shopping malls sell another brand of the polyurethane masks at $6.90/mask in some branches. They sell out fast and are out of stock when I ask for them.

3.3 NTUC sells another brand called Cori Supermask at $6.90/mask

4. FABRIC FACE MASKS WITHOUT FILTERS

4.1. Fabric masks at 3 for $10.00 may be sold at wet markets in Clementi, Toa Payoh and Tiong Bahru. I saw some being sold at Compass One stall. They are displayed exposed in a large bunch.

4.2 Some Grab Food bikers and others in the mall shops wear "biker's mask". They buy them very cheaply from Johor.

5.  FABRIC FACE MASKS WITH FILTERS

5.1. Unity Pharmacy at Waterpoint Mall did sell fabric face masks last week.

5.2. NTUC supermarket sold fabric masks of two types in the last 2 weeks at $3.50 and $4.90 each. Now, there are no more fabric masks for sale. There are some polyurethane masks (Cori Supermasks) for sale now.  Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets do not sell the face masks.

6. CHILDREN'S FACE MASKS
6.1  Motherworks. All children's face masks are sold out.
6.2. NTUC Fairprice online shops selling children's face masks - all out of stock.

6.3. OG departmental store. All children's masks are sold out.
All the children's face masks do not have the 3-ply but they are sold out as parents are very concerned about their children's exposure to the deadly Covid-19 virus. The children's masks are sold at more than $15.00 each and yet they are sold out.

7. RESALE SURGICAL FACE MASKS FROM BANGKOK

Shocking footage shows how workers were IRONING used face masks before selling them again in Thailand. Police raided the factory in Saraburi province 65 miles north of Bangkok yesterday (March 2) after complaints about the dodgy masks being sold to locals desperate for protection against the deadly coronavirus. The group were allegedly collecting dirty and discarded surgical masks, putting them through a washing machine and dryer, ironing them, repackaging them before selling them again as new. Surgical masks are in short supply due to panic-buying as the deadly coronavirus covid-19 currently sweeping across the world kills over hundred thousands of people. A Thai factory was discovered to be re-cycling the coronavirus masks for resale. See the video at:

CONCLUSION
As the number of Covid-19 cases keep increasing in Singapore, there is a tremendous demand in buying face masks to protect against the deadly coronavirus. "Surgical" face masks are in great demand but as at March 30, 2020, a box of 50 costs $49.90. A packet of 10 pieces cost $7.00 - $8.00 if you can find the seller.

Online sales are risky as the Buyer cannot ensure that the single-use face masks have had not been collected, washed and sell again. Recently, a Lucky Plaza shop was discovered to have sold such recycled masks.  



SOME IMAGES OF THE FACE MASKS SOLD IN SINGAPORE

1.  OG Departmental Store, Orchard Road
"N95" respirator type at $6.90 for one mask seen by me in March 20, 2020. 


OG Departmental Store in 3rd week of March

Woorhitech  Face Mask sold in OG


2.  OG Departmental Store, Orchard Road
Children's mask worn by a boy, seen by me in a shopping mall, in March 20, 2020. "His father bought it for him from OG," the mother told me. "It does not have a filter."

I went to OG, but it was all sold out. The supplier had not re-stocked for some time. Many parents buy such masks on line. They have no filters. Children's mask without filters now sell as much as $16.90 online. NTUC Fairprice's online shop has no stock of children's mask as at Mar 30, 2020.

Children's mask (without filters) are  out of stock in OG. Suppliers have not re-stocked


3.  Surgical face masks sold in some shopping malls in Singapore
Sold in Northpoint City Mall

Sold in Northpoint City Mall at $49.90 for a box of 50 masks.
Imported from Vietnam or Thailand.

Almost $1.00 per surgical mask as at Mar 28, 2020. Another retail shop sells adult and children's
"surgical" face masks at same price. 
Sold at Waterway Point Mall

Sold in Kimoj at Waterway Point Mall

Sold at Value Dollar shop in Waterway Point Mall. Seen during
the 3rd week of March. Also sells thermometers and hand sanitisers.

4.  Polyurethane masks sold in Choices Petrol Station and a few retail shops in some shopping malls in Singapore

4.1  Pitta Polyurethane masks
sold by Choices Petrol Stations and Challenger Computer Stores at the cashier counter. No stock for the past one month. I bought four packets from Choices in Mar 2, 2020 from the Jalan Leban station after being referred to it by the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 station which was out of stock. I paid $9.90 for a packet of 3.

Choices Petrol Station at Jalan Leban


$9.90 for a packet of 3 masks. Sold in some branches like Jalan Leban, Ang Mo Kio Ave 4.
Sold out within days in early March 2020. No stock nowadays.


Pitta Masks sold by Choices Petrol Station. A packet of 3 masks was sold for $9.90. Sold
out within days. Not 3-ply.  No stock for the past one month.
4.2  Pictet Polyurethane masks sold by Challenger Computer Stores



$6.90/Pictet Mask sold by some Challenger Computer shops. Sold out at $6.90/mask in a few branches now.

5.  Fabric and Polyurethane masks sold in NTUC supermarkets and Unity Pharmacy.NTUC supermarkets had at least 2 brands of fabric face masks and one brand of polyurethane face mask being sold near the cashier counter in the first 3 weeks of March 2020.  As at March 30, 2020, the Tiong Bahru branch sells only one brand of fabric face mask selling at $3.50 per piece. Another branch in Northpoint City sells the polyurethane masks (Cori Supermask) selling at $4.90 per piece.

Its Unity pharmacy at Waterway Point shopping Mall sold the above-mentioned types when I visited in March 20, 2020.


As at Mar 30, 2020, only this type of fabric mask is
sold at the NTUC supermarket in Tiong Bahru Plaza at $3.50/mask




Fabric face mask was sold in early March. Does not state that it had filters. No stock is seen now. 

Cori Supermask sells at $4.90 each




Cori Supermask (left) issued by the Singapore Government to Singaporeans

3 brands of masks for sale in the NTUC supermarket in early March 2020.
Top shelf contains the Cori Supermask ($4.90 per mask). The 3-ply fabric mask (with filter) at
 $4.90 per piece is at the middle tier. Below is the cloth face mask (without any mention of filter).
As at Mar 28, 2020, only the Cori Supermask and the $3.50 fabric face mask is in stock.






6. Motorbiker's mask  without filters are sold in Johor at 5 Malaysian dollar. 

Motorbiker's mask without filter sells at S$5/mask in Johor.
Some food and beverage staff wears them as the
employer cannot afford to provide "surgical masks" for weeks.
7.  Inexpensive fabric face masks are sold in some wet markets in Toa Payoh, Clementi, Tiong Bahru. You need to look for them as there are not many selling. In March 20, 2020, one clothing stall in Compass One shopping mall sells them at $10 for 3 pieces. Displayed without packaging and exposed.




I bought one at $2.50. The nose clip or wire was painful. The mask did not cover my chin
and it was hard to breathe

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