Nielsen research shows that – Consumers around the world are actively stockpiling emergency supplies as concerns grow that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) could become a worldwide pandemic. They’re also starting to think beyond emergency items, such as basic foodstuffs, including canned goods, flour, sugar and bottled water. Concerns are having a ripple effect into non-food essentials as well. In the U.S., sales of supplements, fruit snacks and first aid kits, for example, are all on the rise.
Nielsen’s initial investigation across major countries around the world has found significant spikes in the hoarding of emergency supplies is occurring in China, the U.S. and Italy, where consumers are rushing to build what are being labelled “pandemic pantries.”
We expect the rush to stock up to have an almost immediate impact on supply chains for manufacturers of the most sought-after goods. Stocks of hand sanitizers and medical face masks have already dried up in some markets, with no clear indication of when supplies will be replenished. In Malaysia, sales of hand sanitizers hit almost RM1 million (US$237,176) in the week ended Jan. 26, 2020; that’s more than 800% above the weekly average. And in the U.S., Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers last week that America could need up to 300 million protective face masks—that’s 270 million more than the current supply. Nielsen measures of San Francisco drug stores indicate that year-to-date sales of medical face masks as of the week ended Feb. 22, 2020 have already exceeded that of the entire 2019 year, demonstrating the strain high demand has put on supply chains.
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