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Here's What Americans Are Buying More -- and Less -- of During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Selena Maranjian – Apr 15, 2020 at 9:05AM

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Would you believe that toilet paper only ranks 24th on the list?

You've certainly heard -- or noticed -- that there's a shortage of toilet paper in many places, as people stock up on the staple during this coronavirus crisis. Toilet paper is not the only item that's selling briskly and sometimes selling out, though -- and it's not even experiencing the strongest sales growth.

Here's a look at some items that have seen their sales explode, and a few items whose sales have cooled, via the folks at VisualCapitalist.com.

A woman wearing a face mask rolling a shopping cart with toilet paper in it down a store aisle with empty shelves.

Image source: Getty Images.

Skyrocketing sales

These are some of many items that are flying off the shelves. Remember that a 100% increase represents a doubling, and a 200% increase reflects tripling.

Rank

Item

Percentage Change*

1

Disposable gloves

670%

2

Bread-making machines

652%

3

Cough and cold medicines

535%

4

Soups

397%

5

Dried grains and rice

386%

11

Paper towels

264%

12

Hand soap and sanitizers

262%

13

Pasta

249%

16

Facial tissues

235%

20

Power generators

210%

24

Toilet paper

190%

31

Fitness equipment

170%

41

Diapers

154%

56

Smoking-cessation supplies

122%

60

Batteries

116%

63

Hair coloring

115%

77

Coffee

101%

91

Chocolate

86%

Source: VisualCapitalist.com.  *March 2020 vs. March 2019.

The list is far from surprising, and it reveals how we see our future -- cooking at home more, cleaning and sanitizing things, indulging in treats such as coffee and chocolate, working out at home, coloring our own hair instead of going to a salon, and possibly suffering from a cold or something worse. Seeing bread-making machines at No. 2 might seem surprising, but it suggests we're bracing to prepare more of our food ourselves.

Sagging sales

Meanwhile, lots of other products are languishing on the shelves. A glance at the list below also paints a pretty clear picture: We're anticipating little to no travel, no trips to the beach or pool, no work clothing and accessories, postponed parties and weddings, and little wear and tear on our cars. The slowing of clock sales is kind of amusing, as many people are having trouble telling what day it is when not working in their usual workplaces or on their usual schedules.

Rank

Item

Percentage Change*

1

Luggage and suitcases

(77%)

2

Briefcases

(77%)

4

Men's swimwear

(64%)

5

Bridal clothing

(63%)

11

Backpacks

(56%)

15

Event and party supplies

(55%)

18

Women's suits and dresses

(53%)

24

Lunchboxes

(50%)

37

Wheels and tires

(46%)

53

Clocks

(39%)

Source: VisualCapitalist.com. *March 2020 vs. March 2019.

These kinds of statistics are interesting on their own, but investors can use them even more to shed light on industries and businesses that are likely to fare better or worse in this temporary new normal.

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