The unusually wet winter in Shanghai and other cities in the Yangtze River Delta region has created a seldom seen wardrobe crisis for local residents.
As the dreary days have dragged on, local residents have been making references to the "wandering" sun－an allusion to China's recent homemade sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth. They also have come up with a saying mimicking a popular line in the movie: "There used to be thousands of underwear, but now only one is left."
Sales of dryers have skyrocketed, according to China's major home appliance retailers, rescuing millions who have no other way to keep their laundry from being soaked in the stubborn soggy weather that has persisted for more than two months.
Since December, Shanghai and its surrounding cities in the delta region, as well as Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces, have experienced a winter that is the wettest and cloudiest since 1961.
In the 82 days between Dec 1 and Wednesday, 47 rainy days were registered in Shanghai, 44 in Zhejiang province's capital Hangzhou, 55 in Jiangxi capital Nanchang and 60 in Hunan capital Changsha, national meteorological services said.
In Guiyang, Guizhou, it was even wetter, with 62 days of rain and only four sunny days during the period.
Precipitation in Shanghai between Dec 1 and Feb 14 amounted to 241.3 millimeters, almost double the average for the period, according to Shanghai weather authorities.
As Shanghai residents complain about how long it takes to dry their clothes on clotheslines, their disposition is not likely to get much sunnier. While they might get some sun this weekend, soggy conditions will continue for weeks, forecasters said.
"I was wondering when the sun in Shanghai will stop its wandering," a micro-blogger wrote, using the handle "Shanghai petty bourgeoisie Gourmet". The sentiment appears to be shared by the writer's 1.9 million followers.
Sales of dryers in Shanghai have risen by 180 percent year-on-year since December, according to e-commerce platform JD. The increase has been 270 percent in Zhejiang province during the same period.
Suning also reported an increase in dryer sales in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu this year, up by 35 percent for brick-and-mortar and online sales. During the week of Feb 11-17, it saw a 105 percent spike from the previous week.
"In the past month, I sold about 20 clothes dryers, which is nearly double the usual," said Li Yanli, a saleswoman at a Suning store in Shanghai.
Sun Zhitao, general manager of the refrigerator and washing machine division of JD Home and Appliance, said the wet and cold weather contributed a lot to the fast growing sales of dryers.