From buying baking goods to sex toys: Here’s how the pandemic has changed our shopping habits

Shopping. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Shopping. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

We all remember the early days of the pandemic, when items such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and pasta flew off grocery store shelves.

But what are people buying while they’re quarantined at home?

A recent study by British retailers John Lewis and Waitrose has looked at the impact working from home, home schooling, meal planning and keeping in touch with friends and family has had on shopping habits during the coronavirus outbreak.

The study’s findings are based on a survey of 2 000 adults in the UK, combined with sales data and online searches from the two retailers and insight from staff.

The retailers have seen an unprecedented increase in sales of haberdashery items as Brits try to get creative amid global stay-at-home orders, according to a report published on Mail Online.

These include needlepoint sets, sewing machines, knitting yarn and crafting kits – with sales of elastic up 1 430% as people are making their own face masks at home.

A huge increase in demand for flour and home baking products has been fuelled by 51% of people spending more time with loved ones cooking and baking.

The lockdown has also led to 45% of consumers eating differently, with half working harder to use store cupboard ingredients and not waste food, 38% snacking more, 19% sitting at the table together for more meals and 31% being more organised by making lists and meal planning, the Grocer reports.

Britons have also sought more variety, with 26% cooking more exotic meals, and searches for Japanese and Thai cuisine increasing dramatically. But with all the focus on food, comes the inevitable battle with the bulge.

The study has also seen a high demand for items in the sports category. With gym equipment, training gear, running shoes, smart watches and wireless headphones proving particularly popular.

Purchases of fitness equipment such as weights are up 496%, yoga and Pilates gear is up by 315%, and sports shoes by 72%.

Demand for DIY beauty solutions has also increased, with rise in the sale of laser hair removal products, manicure sets, face masks and massagers.

The global pandemic has had a similar effect on American consumers, according to Adobe Analytics research on over a trillion web visits.

The most popular items Americans have been shopping for are health products, gym equipment and home supplies, according to Cincinnati news site, WCPO.

For virus protection, sales of gloves, masks and hand sanitizer surged a staggering 817%. Over the last two months, over-the-counter drug purchases in the US increased by 198% for cold and flu medications and 152% for pain relievers.

Online sales of toilet paper spiked by 186%, and canned foods and shelf-stable food sales increased 69%, according to the Adobe report.

And after gyms and fitness clubs across the country shut down last month, online orders for workout gear saw a 55% boost, an increase higher than those typically seen after New Year’s Day or just before swimsuit season.

As stay-at-home orders have been issued across the country, people are also shelling out money for easy entertainment such as board games, puzzles and video games.

Brian Goldner, CEO of toy company Hasbro, says demand for classic board games such as Clue, Monopoly, Sorry and Operation have been particularly strong.

Other Hasbro products such as Jenga, Connect Four and Play-Doh are also seeing sales soar, Goldner said. The toy-making titan is also planning to launch new products as more people stay inside.

And yes, data also shows that adults are looking for fun during quarantine, too. The sale of sex toys has tripled in New Zealand, according to a report published in the Guardian.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Grocer, WCPO, Adobe Blog, The Guardian, Yahoo Finance

*Covid-19 is keeping many of us indoors. Our shopping trips have become brief, normal activities have been halted. Many have been wondering if they’ll still get their copy of their favourite YOU magazine. And how will we find things to do while indoors?

Though YOU magazine is available in most grocery stores, you can also subscribe online with no fuss. Click here to purchase a digital copy.