Customers wait in a queue outside a Uniqlo store selling face masks made by Japan's Fast Retailing Co. in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district on June 19, 2020. (AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi)
Japanese shoppers queued at Uniqlo stores and crashed its website on Friday as the clothing chain began selling face masks with breathable fabric used in the brand's popular underwear, preparing for the coronavirus outbreak lasting through summer.
Scenes of people standing in the rain waiting for stores to open were seen throughout Japan and broadcast on Twitter, while the online store displayed an apology to those looking for the washable Airism masks, saying the website was inundated.
コロナ感染予防の為にエアリズムマスクを買いにユニクロ行くが密になり感染リスクがあがる人々 pic.twitter.com/30uthhwlBq— 🌸れいわちゃん🌸 (@reiwachan_co_jp) June 19, 2020
Airism has been one of Uniqlo's most popular lines, known for allowing wearers to stay cool in heat and during exercise. The masks are sold in three-piece packs for 990 yen ($9.26) plus tax, and are available in three sizes.
Prospects of a prolonged crisis has encouraged Japanese consumers to buy and make reusable, washable versions even as disposable masks, initially in short supply, have become more easily available.
Shares in Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, rose around 1 percent in morning trade, compared with little change in the broader market.
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