Across geographies, consumer demand appears to be beginning to stabilize toward previous year trends although in some categories demand is significantly higher or lower than the previous year, according to recent information from Information Resources (IRI), Chicago.

In its April 10 report titled “COVID-19 Impact: Consumer Spending Tracker for Measured Channels – U.S., UK, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Greece, Netherlands,” IRI collaborated with its partners at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to analyze the latest consumer purchases in these respective countries.

In the United States, the second group of states to issue "stay-at-home" orders showed a spike in edible product sales slightly later than the first group, but followed a similar timeline on nonedible products, it says.

Consumers in most countries are shifting to steady-state purchasing following the initial stockpiling behaviors, data shows. In the United States, total store sales remained up with the market research reporting a 10 percent increase for the week ending March 29. The beverage category saw its first dip since stockpiling shopping began as the market’s sales were down 1.7 percent. The alcohol category, however, still is showing double-digit growth as sales in the United States were up 20.5 percent for the week ending March 29.

The market research firms compared shopping patterns of Phase 1 states (those that were under stay-at-home orders as of March 15) and Phase 2 states (those that were under stay-at-home orders as of March 22). The Phase 1 states were California, Washington and Ohio, while the Phase 2 states were New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Louisiana and Delaware. For edible purchases, both Phases showed the inflection point as March 1 and continued the uptick; however, the Phase 1 group reached its peak the week ending March 15 while Phase 2’s peak was the week ending March 22. When compared with the total United States, both Phase 1 and 2 groups showed the drop in sales aligned the three comparable groups.

In the United States, eCommerce remained high versus a year ago. According to IRI eMarket Insights Model (based on 204 releasable eMarket Insights categories), edible eCommerce sales were up 68 percent compared with a year ago for the week ending March 22.

Data also shows that in the United States, in-store sales grew more than eCommerce initially, but is beginning to revert more to online shopping following stockpiling trends.

Following stockpiling behavior, IRI data shows mixed results for U.S. sales of the top sub-categories within the beverage category for the week ending March 29 following stockpiling patterns:

  • Regular soft drinks up 1.2 percent
  • Convenience/PET still water -11.5 percent
  • Non-aseptic energy drinks -12.1 percent
  • Low calorie soft drinks up 4.7 percent
  • Non-aseptic sports drink -6.2 percent

However, the same cannot be said for alcohol category as all top sub-categories continue to post double-digit gains during that same timeframe:

  • Domestic beer/alcohol, including non-alcohol, up 17 percent
  • Domestic table/still wine up 22.7 percent
  • Imported beer/ale, including non-alcohol, up 15.6 percent
  • Spirits up 31.3 percent