Shoppers focus on comforts and essentials for home as Coronavirus fears escalate


Retail analyst NPD says that its data reveals consumer shopping behavior shifting from discretionary to necessity as fears over Coronavirus rise in the United States.

“We are thinking more about finding solutions than fulfilling desires,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, retail, at NPD.

Information lags behind the rapidly growing affect of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there were already signs in the week ending March 7 of building trends including:


  • Wardrobe and beauty needs will change. Apparel and beauty sales were already slowing at the start of March, but athletic footwear saw a reversal to positive growth during that first week.
  • Office supplies benefited from a leap in sales of janitorial supplies, like disinfectant wipes and cleansers, driving double-digit dollar gains. Work-from-home supplies will be the next strong priority to benefit this industry.
  • Growth in small appliances in the week ending March 7 indicates a focus on cooking and cleaning. This is likely to continue as these products offer assistance with living a socially distant and healthy lifestyle.
  • While it’s still too early to see the impact of the current situation, tech and toys have huge opportunities ahead in entertainment, education, and workspace across age groups.

“The reality is that no one can say when or where this situation will end. Monitoring retail sales and consumer behavior will be key to understanding the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on retail as it progresses. That’s what we’re focused on,” Mr Cohen says.

Following weeks of decline in February, the first week of March saw 2% dollar growth compared to the prior year. While sales in the first week of March were similar to the prior year, we expect to see change over the next two reporting weeks, NPD reports.


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