As the pandemic wears on consumers have predictably turned to online resources for their grocery and home supplies.
From March 13th through March 15th online transactions rose 25% with grocery orders increasing 100% in daily sales. Customers, fearful of contracting the virus, opted for Internet shopping with home delivery or curbside pickup. The next most popular items turned out to be health products, gym equipment, and home goods.
The top three needs, according to retail experts, are: protection, entertainment, and connection.
We’ve witnessed the run on disposable gloves, masks, and hand sanitizers. These items saw an increase of 817%. Sales of toilet paper surged 186% and shelf stable foods 69%.
Prior to the pandemic, I toyed with investing a (very) few dollars in the stock market. I recall musing about what the next “hot” item might be. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer certainly weren’t on my radar.
1.) Exercise Equipment
When gyms shut down, fitness equipment saw a huge increase. Items like treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, and weights found their way into many homes. Workout gear that normally spikes after New Year and before swimsuit season, rose even higher.
Bikes are seeing a comeback as people want to stay in shape and avoid public transportation. It’s also a great outdoor family activity. New bikes are selling and repairs on older models are up.
2.) Indoor/Outdoor Games
Demand for board games is soaring with old classics like Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, and Operation.
Consumers are also buying record numbers of puzzles and video games. One enthusiastic jigsaw puzzle fan described it this way: “Bringing order to a pile of chaos can have an incredibly calming and relaxing effect.” (Sign me up!)
Table tennis and pool tables are hot items, as well. One supplier sold 124 ping pong tables in one week, compared to the 15 he sold last year.
3.) Home & Garden
Many people who considered gardening have now taken the leap, due to a fear of shortages. Others are looking to utilize their time in a productive way. Planting a garden is another great family activity for bored kids and offers an alternative to screen time.
Many of the seed companies are so overwhelmed that they’ve stopped taking orders due to panic-buying.
Sewing and knitting supplies are up as some consumers are making their own cloth masks. Companies who normally sell other products are also producing masks to sell. Other people simply want an indoor activity they can do while watching Netflix.
4.) Reading Materials
My all-time favorite activity is enjoying a resurgence. Magazines, subscriptions, and book sales are up.
While doctor’s offices and airlines have pulled magazines because of the virus, consumers are spending more at the newsstand. Many also signed up for subscriptions to carry them through the upcoming months.
Regarding book sales, fictional accounts of pandemics are in demand. The 1981 Dean Koontz novel The Eyes of Darkness reached number two in Amazon’s UK chart of best sellers. It chronicles a virus called Wuhan-400, an eerie parallel to the coronavirus.
Sales of The Plague by Albert Camus were up 150% during the last week of February, compared to last year.
5.) Computer Accessories
With so many employees working from home, computer accessories are selling like hot cakes. Monitors, keyboards, microphones, routers, and standing desks are some of the big ticket items.
Lots of people don’t have a dedicated home office and must improvise with the space and equipment they do have. Most employers are supplying laptops, but the workplace offers a wider range of supplies that many homes don’t.
Making the adjustment to working from home isn’t easy. Unless you’re single and live alone there’s a lot to deal with. Some of those people have babies and small children to deal with. School-age kids are relying on parents to be teachers. Happy Hour can’t come quick enough!
Retailers saw sales jump 24.6% for the eight weeks ending on April 25, compared to last year.
Despite initially closing stores, delivery and curbside pickup kept business brisk. The data company Nielsen reports that sales are rising on a week-by- week basis as the pandemic wears on.
7.) Bread Machines
There’s nothing like carbs to soothe the soul (and the stomach.) Between March 15 and April 18, bread machine sales rose 4x that of last year, which probably accounted for the shortage of yeast we experienced.
Other top sellers are electric pasta makers, waffle irons, griddles, and rice cookers.
Comfort food, the promise of leftovers, and learning a new skill all contributed to the increase.
8.) Nail Care
As nail salons closed, DIY manicure supplies rose 80%, which is known as the Lipstick Effect. This occurs when consumers, facing an economic crisis, continue to purchase luxury goods, but of a smaller price point.
Anyone who has ever had a mani/pedi will attest to the fact that it’s relaxing and therapeutic.
Hmm…this one surprised me.
But, considering the unavailability of toilet paper, maybe it shouldn’t. When my favorite brand was unavailable, I simply purchased an off-brand. Apparently, other people bought bidets.
Known for being more hygienic and environmentally-friendly, they never caught on in America…until now.
Brondell company president, Steven Scheer expects a 40% increase in sales this year, double what they normally see. This may be the catalyst for change in America. Even the softest, most absorbent toilet paper can’t compare to the clean feeling that water provides.
Eighty percent of Japanese homes have them and with good reason. An electronic bidet that offers a heated seat and a warm-air drying mechanism, wins over most skeptics. I know from experience! 😉