First, the hand sanitizer, disinfectants and toilet paper.
Now hair clippers and hair dye are flying off shelves.
In recent weeks, Americans’ shopping patterns are serving as a reflection of how the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and affect daily lives.
“You can definitely see that as people have stayed home, their focus shifted,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said.
After stocking up on consumables and food, shoppers turned to puzzles, games and other timeless forms of entertainment as well as education, he said.
Recently, sales are showing that without the ability to go to a hair salon people are getting shaggy.
“People are starting to need a haircut,” McMillon said. “You see more beard trimmers and hair color and things like that. It’s interesting to watch the dynamic play out.”
Here’s a look at how buying patterns have changed in the last few weeks:
First Week: Hand sanitizers, disinfectants and soaps.
The first wave of heightened shopping showed people were buying up various means to protect themselves such as masks, cleaning products and hand sanitizers as the virus spread in the US.
According to Nielsen data, during the week ending of March 7, hand sanitizer sales skyrocketed 470% from the year before while Aerosol disinfectant product sales shot up 385%.
US consumers were behaving as if they were preparing for a major storm.
Second Week: Toilet paper
Panic buying begat even more panic buying, and the run on bathroom tissue sent ripple effects through the supply chain.
Tom Sellars, CEO of Sellars Absorbent Materials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin said most mills are 24 hours, 7 days a week operations already and they are running on fixed capacity. “It’s not like there’s an idle machine that can be cranked up to increase production.” Sellars added.
Nielsen reported that bath tissue, facial tissue and paper towel products all saw triple-digit sales increases during the week that ended March 14. That same week, aerosol disinfectant sales spiked 519%.
Third and fourth week: Spiral hams and baking yeast
As hunkering down at home transitioned to settling in, Americans turned to baking.
In the weeks ending March 21 and March 28, according to Nielsen, baking yeast sales grew more than any other consumer packaged goods product, up 647% and 457% respectively, over the same weeks in 2019. Spiral hams were also popular, with sales spiking 622% and 413%, in that same time period.
Flour and yeast makers say there are no supply shortages of their products (plus, there’s never really a shortage of yeast). They’re just trying to play catch-up much like other manufacturers whose products are suddenly in demand.
Fifth Week: Hair clippers and hair dye on the rise
Spiral ham was still king during the week ending April 4, but Nielsen’s data also showed that consumers were starting to shift toward other products to maintain their manes.
Americans have become DIY barbers and stylists as hair salons across the country have temporarily closed to maintain social distancing measures.
Sales of hair clippers increased 166% and hair coloring products rose 23%, from the same period a year earlier, according to Nielsen.
Monique Campbell, owner of Endless Extensions in Dallas, told the Dallas Morning News that closing down is financially stressful, but she understands the situation.
“By asking a stylist to come to you or you going to them, it’s still very high risk,” she said, according to the report. “I don’t want to put myself at risk [of catching the coronavirus] just to make sure someone’s hair is pretty.”