Panic induced by the coronavirus is leading to consumers bulk buying food, health care and other essential products as fears rise over potential supply disruptions. Retailers across the world are reporting crowded supermarkets and emptying shelves of items such as hand sanitiser and dry groceries like rice, pasta and canned foods. Consumer market researcher Nielsen that “pandemic pantries” are now spreading across the world.
The emergency buying up of essential goods is also boosting spending on non-essentials like supplements, fruit snacks and first aid kits.
According to Nielsen, “In Vietnam, 45% of consumers polled said they’ve increased what they’re stocking at home, and 25% are buying more items online. Similarly, in Taiwan, instant noodles have been plucked from shelves and are now difficult to find in stores.
Analyst Kelly Bania of BMO Capital Markets describes the current situation and the direction it might take: “We see risk for a scenario in which COVID-19 virus significantly alters the food consumption patterns of Americans on a short-term and possibly uncertain timeframe. We also see increasing risk from the emotional impact on consumer confidence/spending patterns, given near correction status on the market. Going forward, it will be increasingly difficult for investors and companies alike to discern the underlying cause of these potential shifts and or areas of weakness.”
It is likely that there will be a shift from eating out to eating at home, which could further drive an increase in online food and grocery spending.