Here's What's Been Flying Off Store Shelves

Mar 16, 2020
Originally published on March 17, 2020 9:46 am

Updated at 3:04 p.m. ET

We've seen pictures of people lining up at grocery stores, Costco and other retailers looking for essential supplies as the coronavirus crisis deepens. Sure, hand sanitizer, spray disinfectant and cleaners are among the most popular items sought out by panicked shoppers. But they're also buying a lot more oat milk and canned goods.

At a Harris Teeter grocery store in Washington, D.C., security worker Brando Sterling said retailers can only do so much to keep up with the pandemic-driven demand, and he urged people to be thoughtful in their purchases.

"Do you really need 18 24-packs of toilet paper while your neighbor has none?" he asked. "If we all just do what we can in order to look out for each other ... it just starts house to house, person to person, neighbor to neighbor."

Here are some of the items that have seen big sales increases, according to Nielsen data for the week ended March 7, compared to the same week a year earlier:

Health and safety products

Hand sanitizer: +470%

Aerosol disinfectants: +385.3%

Rubbing alcohol: +253.8%

Bath & shower wipes: +180%

Thermometers: +172.3%

Multipurpose cleaners: +148.2%

First aid kits: +111.9%

Hydrogen peroxide: +109.8%

Antiseptic: +80.7%

Bath & shower soap: +69.6%

Toilet paper: +60%

Cold & flu remedies: +55.5%

Facial tissue: +51.5%

Paper towels: +40.8%

Cough remedies: +37.1%

Antibiotics: +32.8%

Supplements: +35%

Vitamins: +32.3%

Pet medicine: +11.7%

Food, beverage and other products

Oat milk: +347.3%

Fresh meat alternatives: +206.4%

Powdered milk products: +126.3%

Dried beans: +62.9%

Canned meat: +57.9%

Rice: +57.5%

Chickpeas/garbanzos: +47.3%

Water: +42%

Black beans: +41%

Tuna: +31.2%

Pretzels: +14.8%

Kombucha: +10.1%

Fruits and vegetables saw decreases:

Celery: -18.7%

Papayas: -6.5%

Apples: -3.2%

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