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By March 2020, most of the world was put into mandatory lockdown after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic (read more about that here). This meant that consumers were following stay-at-home orders and were restricted to leaving the house for essential services and  shopping only.

For many people, upskilling, taking on a new hobby or not wanting to forgo their daily routines meant that the purchases of gym equipment, for example, increased as people were now limited to going to the gym. With many people losing their jobs or primary streams of income due to lockdowns, lots of people opted to open up home businesses turning their hobbies into products or services.

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For many people, upskilling, taking on a new hobby or not wanting to forgo their daily routines meant that the purchases of gym equipment, for example, increased as people were now limited to going to the gym. With many people losing their jobs or primary streams of income due to lockdowns, lots of people opted to open up home businesses turning their hobbies into products or services.

Anything from candle-making, to monetising social media streams, to home delivery foods, people did their best to stay afloat and in turn, communities everywhere turned to supporting small businesses so much so that Instagram added a “small business” tool onto their platform to help others promote their favourite small, locally owned business – read more about that here.

 

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What did consumers shop for most during lockdown?

In many parts of the world, panic buying ensued with retailers globally forced to limit the number of purchases of high-demand items (such as hand sanitiser and toilet paper) per shopper. A leading financial institute, JP Morgan, published their findings in an article and relayed that:  “For the world’s largest personal care, food and drink companies, data showing which products sold the most tells the story of how consumers spent their time and money during lockdown” noting that “flat growth followed by a huge spike — double digit growth. That is very rare for this industry and was totally prompted by the lockdown and the fact that people couldn’t get out,” said Celine Pannuti, Head of European Staples and Beverages Research at J.P. Morgan.

 

Lockdown Purcheses - IMM Blog ImageJP Morgan breaks down what consumers seemed to purchase the most during lockdowns across Europe and the United States of America in 2020 into four main purchase categories:

Soaps and Household Cleaners: sales of household cleaning and disinfectant products increased greatly. Sales of cleaning wipes in the U.S. increased by over 100% in the first three months of the year, relative to a year ago, followed by a 60% surge in the second quarter and sales continued to grow by over 15% in the third quarter. In the third quarter sales of aerosol disinfectants climbed 120%, as did sales of dishwasher detergents and general kitchen cleaners, which have increased around 40%.

Vitamins and Supplements: Amid the pandemic, consumers also loaded up on vitamins and supplements. Revkitt Benckiser grew U.S. sales by approximately 50% in the first half of the year and maintained that momentum in the third quarter (+26%).

 

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Hair Color: As a result of the lockdown, home hair color products have become particularly popular in the United States and Europe. For companies like L’Oreal and Henkel, sales of hair color were up over 30% in the second quarter of the year.

Coffee: Many workers around the world began working from home during the lockdown, and coffee became a popular drink. Thus, Nestlé saw fresh roast coffee sales grow by around a third in Europe, while in the US, Starbucks at-home products, Nescafé and Coffee-Mate grew at double-digit rates.

 

The boost in e-Commerce shopping and the logistics of it

Despite the logistics industry taking a knock as countries locked down (read more about that here) and the mobility of transporting of goods had been pushed back, globally, e-commerce shopping across all industries increased this past year as panicked consumers looked for hand sanitiser, groceries, and skincare products online.

Typically these items were also sought out in bulk. A McKinsey report suggests that consumers spent $211.5 billion on e-commerce during the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 31.8% from the first. With more shoppers going to the internet for their shopping, e-commerce now makes up 16.1% of all U.S. sales  and this trend appears set to continue as non-essential businesses, restaurants and retailers start reopening. In the graph below, McKinsey’s report illustrates how e-commerce boosted more than ever before during the pandemic.

 

e-commerce Growth - IMM Blog Image

 

Conclusion

Despite the fact that many people lost their primary streams of income, many people dipped into their savings, others opted to open up small businesses and some were afforded government compensation. The increase in consumerism during the pandemic has spiked particularly via e-commerce. Online shopping has risen and that includes delivery services. While the continuation of this increase in consumerism is probable, analysts await the outcomes of consumer behaviour in the next year.