COVID-19: Changing people’s buying habits

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that COVID-19 has changed the world. Since it is a global pandemic, all countries are suffering with its effects, which include everything from social distancing to the way we stock the shelves in our homes. Indeed, no one was truly prepared for what this pandemic would do to our lives but one thing is certain: people’s buying habits have changed drastically since the virus came on the scene and in ways that no one seems to have been prepared for, including certain industries.

Changes In Buying Habits We Didn’t Expect

COVID-19 has affected nearly every business on the planet and this has included things that people had no way to expect. When the virus first hit, people were told to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer as often as possible, and wear masks whenever they go out in public. This resulted in shelves quickly becoming empty of products such as hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, bottled water, and even paper items such as napkins and toilet paper, the latter of which many people still haven’t figured out. What’s more, even some of the larger stores, including Sam’s Club and Costco, were running out of certain items as soon as their shelves were stocked.

Some of this was no surprise; after all, Americans in particular tend to overreact to things such as viruses and other illnesses. Still, the extreme shortages of cleaning supplies and hygiene items were a surprise to most people. But what about items that seemed not to be related to COVID-19? Some of people’s buying habits became a mystery; in fact, many items that were being bought up quickly were somewhat of a mystery as well. It actually seemed that many of the items being purchased in huge quantities had nothing to do with the virus so people were surprised to learn that these items were flying off the shelves. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Bicycles and Exercise Equipment

If you are interested in buying a bicycle or any type of exercise equipment, including free weights and barbells, you might have a hard time finding it. In fact, even trying to purchase these items on the internet, which previously seemed to have limitless stores and options, has become difficult in many instances. Because many gyms have been forced to close, and more people are either jobless or working from home with more free time, they are buying exercise equipment like crazy. And along with this, sales of exercise accessories and even repair services related to these items have increased dramatically. In many areas across the country, the sales of bicycles alone have increased by more than 80 percent so there is little wonder why these items are becoming harder and harder to find.

Furniture and Household Items

Since people are home more and are afraid to spend too much time in public, lots of household items, including larger items such as furniture, are selling out across the country. Although many furniture stores have closed their showrooms to the public, many of them claim that their furniture assembly and furniture repair departments are as busy as ever because the online sales of furniture have gone through the roof. It’s almost as if people are thinking that since they’re at home anyway, they might as well purchase the household items that they’ve been meaning to purchase but just haven’t gotten around to it.

Even other household items seem to be flying off the shelves since people are more hesitant to go out to a real store to purchase these basic items. Amazon, for example, has had delayed shipping times for months and has reported that everything from clothing to basic items such as dishwashing liquid and beauty supplies have been purchased in such large quantities that they are barely able to keep up. And when stores such as Amazon are affected, you know that the situation is something different and unique.

And it isn’t just these types of items. It’s also items such as pantry staples, medications and medical supplies, and face masks. Any items that people consider essential to everyday living are flying off the shelves in record numbers but this doesn’t mean that they’re easy to get. Ordering items such as face masks and rubber gloves online often became difficult. People became frustrated because no matter which online store they went to, the virtual shelves seemed to be empty and most of the sites kept blaring “out of stock” on tons of these items. It’s frustrating, to be sure, but it’s something that is likely to continue at least for the time being.

Clothing Is Also Affected

Of course, with more and more people working from home because of COVID-19, the sales of casual clothing are also being affected. Instead of donning suits, blazers, and other business-like apparel, people are now buying more casual clothing since they don’t have to dress up for their new “office.” Casual clothing items are now being purchased a lot more often than suits and ties, and until more people start going back to their regular jobs in regular offices, this is not likely to change any time soon.

What Does The Future Hold?

As far as the future is concerned, no one knows how long COVID-19 is going to stick around but some buying patterns have actually returned to normal, or a semblance of normalcy anyway. There is now plenty of napkins, toilet paper, and hand sanitizers on the shelves in most stores and even online stores don’t have as many “out of stock” warnings as they did a few months ago. Still, some of the trends from the past six months may continue at least until the end of the year, even though in many cases people are going back to their usual buying patterns.

While no one knows for sure what is going to happen with buyers in the near future, one thing is sure: COVID-19 has certainly caused a panic with buyers that is unlike most people have seen in their lifetime; regardless of how long these changes will stick with us, no one will ever consider 2020 to be an ordinary, run-of-the-mill year.

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