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Walmart's CEO Says Shopping Trends Keep Shifting

By Daniel B. Kline - Apr 13, 2020 at 6:35PM

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You might be surprised what people are buying now.

When stay-at-home orders were first enacted, people responded by stocking up on staples. They bought toilet paper, rice, other food items, and lots of practical things.

As reality set in, consumers bought puzzles, board games, exercise equipment, and items to enhance or set up a home office. Now demand has shifted again, Walmart (WMT 0.86%) CEO Doug McMillon noted on the Today show last week.

The exterior of a Walmart.

Walmart's CEO said shopping patterns have shifted. Image source: Walmart.

What are people buying?

With non-essential retail closed, people can't get their hair cut or dyed. They also can't go to nail salons.

"People are starting to need a haircut," the CEO said. "You see more beard trimmers and hair color and things like that. It's interesting to watch the dynamic play out." A number of other items have also experienced periods of added demand. An increase in at-home baking led to a scarcity of yeast. In addition, it's been challenging to find seeds as people use their time at home to start gardens.

How is Walmart doing?

These are challenges that retailers like Walmart can't always foresee, which causes them to have to adjust their supply chain on the fly. There have been some short-term shortages, but Walmart -- and the other leading retailers dealing with keeping Americans supplied -- have done a very good job getting essential items back in stock.
They're likely to catch up on grooming supplies as well. In most cases, if shoppers are patient, check back often, and are flexible on substitutions, they should be able to get some approximation of what they need.

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