Research News South Africa

Shopping data shows shopping trips down, basket sizes up

Three months after Covid-19 was officially declared a pandemic on 11 March, and with virtually all states having reopened for business to various degrees, shopper intelligence platform Catalina continues to track the profound impact of the global health crisis on buying behavior across the US.

Strong upticks in numerous categories show that millions of Americans, after many weeks of “sheltering in place", are taking advantage of warmer weather to enjoy the great outdoors.

Even so, for the week ending 13 June, shoppers continued making fewer trips to grocery and drug stores nationwide – while spending more per visit compared to the same period a year ago. Total sales dollars per store were up by an average of 9%, with basket sizes increasing by 25% over the prior year – even as the number of shopping trips declined by 13%.

This behavior first started to take root in mid-February when coronavirus concerns began to emerge in earnest across the country. Since that time, Catalina has been using its Buyer Intelligence Database to track sales data by state across 78 major grocery and drug categories, the results of which the company has been sharing via an interactive map at “This data has proven to be beneficial for our retail and CPG customers when it comes to making informed marketing and supply chain decisions during this highly uncertain time,” says Catalina CMO Marta Cyhan.

Strong selling categories nationwide underscore return to the great outdoors

With many Americans homebound for several weeks, there has been avid enthusiasm for getting back outdoors, as Catalina’s database attests. Camping supplies have surged by more than 80% as more people, still reluctant to board flights and check into hotels at this juncture, are planning road trips that involve sleeping under the stars.

Considering that millions of people have channeled their “inner chef” since the onset of the pandemic, it’s no wonder that barbecuing and campfires have become increasingly popular. Charcoal and lighter fluid sales were both up 26% respectively over the same period a year ago, with fire logs up 64%. Meanwhile, barbecue sauces were up 25%, and condiments showed a healthy increase (ketchup up 14%, mustard up 18%, and relishes up 14%). Paper, plastic and Styrofoam plates and bowls were up 23%.

With baking surging in popularity in recent months, it’s not surprising that creating s’mores over an open flame is delighting sweet lovers of all ages. Marshmallow sales were up 27 percent, while chocolate bar sales increased by 24% and graham crackers by 7%, and to help alleviate stress, millions of people have turned to gardening, with sales of potting soil and fertilizers up 41% – as well as to exercise, with sports drinks up 36%. Of course, being outside can have its downside: sales of insecticides and insect repellants were up 34% and 20% respectively. For the same period versus a year ago, sunscreen and suntanning lotions and creams were up 16%.

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