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The Pandemic Economy: What are Shoppers Buying Online During COVID-19?

 

The Pandemic Economy: What are Shoppers Buying Online During COVID-19?

By Katie Jones, Visual Capitalist

 

Ecommerce category growth during covid-19 pandemic

 

The Fastest Growing and Declining E-Commerce Categories

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on every aspect of life, including how people shop for their necessities, and their not-so-necessities.

With online retail sales estimated to reach an eye-watering $6.5 trillion by 2023, the ecommerce sector was already booming. But since the outbreak, online shopping has been catapulted into complete overdrive. Even the largest retailers on the planet are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented consumer demand—but what exactly are people buying?

To answer this question, retail intelligence firm Stackline analyzed ecommerce sales across the U.S. and compiled a list of the fastest growing and declining ecommerce categories (March 2020 vs. March 2019) with surprising results.

The Frenzy of Buyer Behavior

As people come to terms with their new living situations, their buying behavior has adapted to suit their needs. While panic buying may have slowed in some countries, consumers continue to stock up on supplies, or “pandemic pantry products”.

Many consumers are also using their newfound time to focus on their health, with 85% of consumers taking up some kind of exercise while in social isolation, and 40% of them saying they intend to keep it up when restrictions are lifted.

These changing behaviors have resulted in a number of product categories experiencing a surge in demand — and although a lot of them are practical, others are wonderfully weird.

The Fastest Growing Categories

While the below list features several shelf-stable items, it seems as though consumers are taking matters into their own hands, with bread making machines sitting in second place and retailers selling out of their top models.

It’s clear from the list that consumers are considering positive changes to their lifestyle while in isolation, as fitness, smoking cessation, and respiratory categories are all experiencing growth.

Explore the 100 fastest growing product categories below:

 

Rank Category % Change in March (2020 vs. 2019)
#1 Disposable Gloves 670%
#2 Bread Machines 652%
#3 Cough & Cold 535%
#4 Soups 397%
#5 Dried Grains & Rice 386%
#6 Packaged Foods 377%
#7 Fruit Cups 326%
#8 Weight Training 307%
#9 Milk & Cream 279%
#10 Dishwashing Supplies 275%
#11 Paper Towels 264%
#12 Hand Soap & Sanitizer 262%
#13 Pasta 249%
#14 Vegetables 238%
#15 Flour 238%
#16 Facial Tissues 235%
#17 Allergy Medicine 232%
#18 Women’s Health 215%
#19 Cereals 214%
#20 Power Generators 210%
#21 Laundry Supplies 200%
#22 Household Cleaners 195%
#23 Soap & Body Wash 194%
#24 Toilet Paper 190%
#25 Jerky & Dried Meats 187%
#26 Chips & Pretzels 186%
#27 Crackers 184%
#28 Health Monitors 182%
#29 Popcorn 179%
#30 Computer Monitors 172%
#31 Fitness Equipment 170%
#32 Single Vitamins 166%
#33 Nut & Seed Butters 163%
#34 Cat Food 162%
#35 Fruit Snacks 162%
#36 Baby Care Products 162%
#37 Refrigerators 160%
#38 Baking Mixes 160%
#39 Toilet Accessories 160%
#40 Dog Food 159%
#41 Diapers 154%
#42 Yoga Equipment 154%
#43 Bottled Beverages 153%
#44 Baby Meals 153%
#45 Cookies 147%
#46 Digestion & Nausea 144%
#47 Snack Foods 141%
#48 Herbal Supplements 136%
#49 Cooking Oils 135%
#50 Water 130%
#51 Incontinence & Tummy 129%
#52 Mutivitamin 126%
#53 Cat Litter 125%
#54 Training Pads and Trays 125%
#55 Juices 125%
#56 Smoking Cessation 122%
#57 Dried Fruit & Raisins 120%
#58 Salt & Pepper Seasoning 118%
#59 Craft Kits & Projects 117%
#60 Batteries 116%
#61 Trash Bags 116%
#62 Nuts & Seeds 116%
#63 Hair Coloring 115%
#64 Sauce & Gravy 115%
#65 Deli Foods 114%
#66 Syrups 114%
#67 Breads & Bakery 114%
#68 Minerals 113%
#69 Condiments 111%
#70 First Aid 108%
#71 Nail Care 108%
#72 Humidifiers 105%
#73 Art Paint 104%
#74 Office Chairs 104%
#75 Deodorant 103%
#76 Jams, Jellies & Spreads 102%
#77 Coffee 101%
#78 Spices & Seasoning 100%
#79 Skin Care 99%
#80 Pain Relievers 99%
#81 Cooking Vinegars 98%
#82 Air Purifiers 97%
#83 Granola & Nutrition Bars 97%
#84 Pudding & Gelatin 97%
#85 Toy Clay & Dough 95%
#86 Single Spices 95%
#87 Bird Food & Treats 91%
#88 Lab & Science Products 90%
#89 Eczema & Psoriasis 90%
#90 Ping Pong 89%
#91 Chocolate 86%
#92 Baking Ingredients 84%
#93 Energy Supplements 84%
#94 Respiratory 82%
#95 Office Desks 82%
#96 Potty Training Supplies 82%
#97 Herbs, Spices & Seasonings 82%
#98 Keyboard & Mice 80%
#99 Body Lotion 79%
#100 Safes 69%

 

Interestingly, toilet paper has seen more growth than baby care products, and cured meats have seen more growth than water. But while some categories are experiencing a drastic increase in demand, others are slumping in the pandemic economy.

 

The Fastest Declining Categories

An unprecedented wave of event and vacation cancellations is having a huge impact on the products people consume. For instance, luggage and suitcases, cameras, and men’s swimwear have all seen a dip in sales.

See the full list of 100 fastest declining categories below:

Rank Category % Change in March (2020 vs. 2019)
#1 Luggage & Suitcases -77%
#2 Briefcases -77%
#3 Cameras -64%
#4 Men’s Swimwear -64%
#5 Bridal Clothing -63%
#6 Men's Formal Wear -62%
#7 Women’s Swimwear -59%
#8 Rash Guards -59%
#9 Boy’s Athletic Shoes -59%
#10 Gym Bags -57%
#11 Backpacks -56%
#12 Snorkelling Equipment -56%
#13 Girl’s Swimwear -55%
#14 Baseball Equipment -55%
#15 Event & Party Supplies -55%
#16 Motorcycle Protective Gear -55%
#17 Camera Bags & Cases -54%
#18 Women’s Suits & Dresses -53%
#19 Women’s Boots -51%
#20 Cargo Racks -51%
#21 Women’s Sandals -50%
#22 Drones -50%
#23 Boy's Active Clothing -50%
#24 Lunch Boxes -50%
#25 Store Fixtures & Displays -50%
#26 Automotive Mats -50%
#27 Men’s Outerwear -49%
#28 Watches & Accessories -49%
#29 Cargo Bed Covers -48%
#30 Track & Field Equipment -48%
#31 Ceiling Lighting -47%
#32 Camera Lenses -47%
#33 Girl’s Coats and Jackets -47%
#34 Women’s Hats & Caps -47%
#35 Women's Outerwear -47%
#36 Video Cameras -46%
#37 Wheels & Tires -46%
#38 Motorcycle Parts -45%
#39 Women’s Wallets -45%
#40 Shocks & Struts -44%
#41 Transmission & Parts -44%
#42 Girl’s Athletic Shoes -44%
#43 Women’s Shoes -44%
#44 Telescopes -44%
#45 Sunglasses & Eyeglasses -43%
#46 Men’s Tops -41%
#47 Video Projectors -40%
#48 Men’s Athletic Shoes -40%
#49 Marine Electronics -40%
#50 Hand Tools -40%
#51 Wine Racks -40%
#52 Men's Shoes -40%
#53 Clocks -39%
#54 Baby Girl’s Shoes -39%
#55 Bracelets -39%
#56 Men’s Boots -39%
#57 Tapestries -39%
#58 Camping Equipment -39%
#59 Men’s Bottoms -38%
#60 Cell Phones -38%
#61 Tool Storage & Organizers -38%
#62 Necklaces -38%
#63 Swimming Equipment -37%
#64 Men’s Hats & Caps -37%
#65 Girl’s Shoes -37%
#66 Industrial Tools -36%
#67 Juicers -36%
#68 Desktops -35%
#69 Classroom Furniture -35%
#70 Bar & Wine Tools -35%
#71 Glassware & Drinkware -35%
#72 Musical Instruments -34%
#73 Power Winches -34%
#74 Home Bar Furniture -34%
#75 Office Storage Supplies -34%
#76 Girl's Active Clothing -34%
#77 Women’s Tops -34%
#78 Braces, Splints & Supports -34%
#79 Car Anti-theft -34%
#80 Rings -34%
#81 Blankets & Quilts -33%
#82 Women's Athletic Shoes -33%
#83 Kitchen Sinks -33%
#84 Golf Clubs -33%
#85 Equestrian Equipment -33%
#86 GPS & Navigation -32%
#87 Recording Supplies -32%
#88 Home Audio -32%
#89 Boy's Accessories -32%
#90 Earrings -32%
#91 Dining Sets -31%
#92 Calculators -31%
#93 Boy's Shoes -31%
#94 Volleyball Equipment -31%
#95 Strollers -31%
#96 Coolers -30%
#97 Sanders & Grinders -30%
#98 Men's Activewear -29%
#99 Living Room Furniture -29%
#100 Climbing & Hiking Bags -28%

 

Regardless of which list a product falls under, it is clear that the pandemic has impacted retailers of every kind in both positive and negative ways.

 

The New Normal?

Officially the world’s largest retailer, Amazon has announced it can no longer keep up with consumer demand. As a result, it will be delaying the delivery of non-essential items, or in some cases not taking orders for non-essentials at all.

This presents a double-edged sword, as the new dynamic that is bringing some retailers unprecedented demand could also bring about an untimely end for others.

Meanwhile, the question remains: will this drastic change in consumer behavior stabilize once we flatten the curve, or is this our new normal?


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