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Face mask sales skyrocket but there's still adequate supply, retailers say

Representatives from some of Finland's biggest chains say face mask use increases in tandem with raised restrictions.

Kuvassa on maski kasvoillaan kulkevia ihmisiä Helsingin keskustassa 14. lokakuuta 2020.
Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

As Finland's coronavirus situation has worsened, face mask sales have clearly risen, according to retailers.

Sales have increased as government-ordered restrictions have tightened in recent weeks, the retailers said, noting that demand for the personal protective devices slumped over the summer when infection rates were significantly lower.

According to S-Group's product director Janne Paananen, the retail chain cooperative saw sales of a few thousand face masks a week during the summer but that weekly sales have now grown to a few million.

"Every time there's a report about an increase in coronavirus cases there's a little sales bump," Paananen explained.

S-Group's biggest rival has seen the same development, according to Kesko's sourcing manager Jenni Moisanen.

"[Face mask] sales are clearly higher now than in the early autumn and significantly more than last spring," Moisanen said.

More supply these days

Despite relatively low face mask sales last spring and summer, the devices were sometimes hard to find on store shelves because of a lack of supply, according to retail chain Tokmanni's commercial director Matti Korolainen.

"In the spring and early summer we sold out all the masks we received," Korolainen said.

All four of the major retailers contacted by Yle - including S-Group, Kesko, Tokmanni as well as pharmacy chain Yliopiston Apteekki - said that there was currently enough supply of face masks to meet demand.

"I see no reason to worry about availability," said Anna Surakka, Yliopiston Apteekki's director of marketing and assortment.

The retailers also noted that there needs to be adequate supply of face masks if recommendations and restrictions are further tightened.

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