American shoppers have been racing to stock up on hand sanitizer and other supplies as the coronavirus outbreak spreads.
Online sales of “virus protection” items like hand sanitizers, gloves, masks and anti-bacterial sprays soared 817% in January and February compared to the same period last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks sales at 80 of the top 100 online retailers in the United States.
US online shoppers are also buying more drugs and non-perishable items, according to Adobe. In those same months, sales of cold, cough and flu products went up 198%, pain relievers jumped 152%, toilet paper grew 186% and non-perishable goods such as canned goods went up 69%, all compared to the same period last year.
Adobe didn’t ask consumers why they were buying the products, but the sales period lines up with the acceleration of news surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus. There are now about about 125,000 reported cases globally.
Other research firms have reported similar upticks in hand sanitizer sales.
The NPD group, a market research company, reported a spike in hand sanitizer sales in the four weeks ending on February 22. In that period, dollar sales of the product popped 67% compared to the same time last year. And Nielsen, which tracks US retail sales, has found that dollar sales of hand sanitizer in the four weeks ending on March 7 popped 228% when compared to the same period last year.
As the situation changes in the United States, people could start stocking up on different items, said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.
The impacts on public life are accelerating. Local governments are putting policies in place to try to curtail the spread of the virus. Big tech companies including Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN) and others have recommended that employees work remotely. Major conferences like SXSW and others have been canceled. Disneyland is closed.
Because of the new restrictions and closures, people will likely be spending much more time at home. They may want to build out their home offices with monitors, keyboards and mouses or buy exercise equipment they can use indoors, noted Pandya. He added that Adobe will also be looking at whether sales flatten out because in-demand items are sold out.