What are people buying during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Research shows online sales up 25%
Posted at 8:01 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 20:06:40-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions here.

You've likely noticed items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and pasta flying off of grocery store shelves, but what are people buying while they’re quarantined at home?

Not surprisingly, online sales during the coronavirus pandemic jumped 25% in just two days (March 13–15) compared to the first 11 days of the month. According to Adobe Analytics research on over a trillion web visits, that spike was driven by online grocery shopping, which saw a more than 100% increase in daily sales. States like California, New Hampshire and Oregon saw the biggest boost in web sales.

The other most popular items people shop for: health products, gym equipment and home supplies.

Retail experts say people are buying to fulfill three main needs - protection, entertainment and connection.

For virus protection, sales of gloves, masks and hand sanitizer surged a staggering 817%. Over the last two months, over-the-counter drug purchases 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 Adobe.

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 like board games, puzzles and video games.

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner says demand for classic board games like Clue, Monopoly, Sorry and Operation have been particularly strong.

Other Hasbro products like 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. According to Rolling Stone, sales of certain intimacy items have risen since the pandemic started. But there are pages of articles about that topic elsewhere, so we’ll let you research that trend on your own.