A year ago, people couldn’t find toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or baking flour.
Fast forward one year, and now people are having trouble finding deodorant, teeth whitener, and condoms.
Welcome to the post-COVID-19 world of retail.
As pandemic restrictions are being lifted around the U.S., people are looking to buy products that will help them put their best foot forward as they re-enter society.
In addition to the products noted above, sales of perfume, nail polish, swimsuits, sunscreen, tuxedos, luggage, and alarm clocks are climbing fast, according to companies that make these products and large retailers.
Despite the increase in the sales of such products, it is not approaching the huge spike in sales seen at the start of the pandemic for cleaning products. Store shelves were empty for weeks of such products; there seems to be no such problem this year, with retailers seemingly having enough stock of personal hygiene and grooming products.
Clothing and travel products, such as luggage, also seem to be doing a brisk business. Target reported a 60% increase in apparel sales compared to last year.
In comparison, according to data from NielsenIQ., U.S. sales of paper and plastic products, which includes items such as toilet paper, fell 18.3% in the four weeks up to May 1 compared with the same period last year. Baking supplies fell 35.6%.
Part of the change in consumer spending habits can be explained by the pent-up demand for products that people possibly saw less of a need for, given they weren’t our socializing and traveling. In addition, many Americans may be flush with cash, thanks in part to the pandemic relief checks as well as cost savings from working at home and not going out.
So once again, we have to admire the resilience of the American consumer and their love of shopping. They certainly have a positive effect on our economy.
But I’m not sure what it says about us that sales of deodorant and mouthwash have increased significantly in recent months.
Shouldn’t such products be used no matter what your work or social life looks like?
Had people just given up taking care of themselves during the pandemic?
Anyway, I hope that if there are Americans who feel a little wealthier than they did last year, they also spend some of that money supporting organizations like DonorsChoose and Feeding America. The causes and the people they support could use such contributions now more than ever…