A Bulk Buying Tipping Point
March 18, 2020
The news cycle has distorted when the American public really started pantry-loading and buckling down for the COVID-19 epidemic. It wasn’t truly until after Wednesday, March 11, that consumer purchase behavior ramped up. On March 11, the NBA suspended all games after Utah Jazz basketball player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. On the same evening, the President addressed America from the Oval Office announcing restrictions on European travelers entering the U.S.—and to top it all off, America’s darling couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced testing positive for the virus.
On Thursday, March 12th, the stock market took a historical dip, the NBA canceled its season, and other recreational organizations including the MLB, NFL, NCAA, and Broadway theatre productions followed suit—that American consumers realized COVID-19 was a big deal, and started bulk buying household goods in an appreciable way. When you take Americans’ entertainment away, they respond: U.S. consumers increased their average household CPG spend by 55% compared to the prior Thursday, and more than doubled the number of items purchased. Spending at grocery stores saw a 62 percent increase that dwarfed increased spend at drugstores (16 percent increase) over the prior Thursday’s average spend.