• Over the last four weeks that Americans have spent at home, their buying habits have shifted from basic goods to boredom-solving and grooming supplies. 
  • In particular, sales have spiked recently for hair dye and clippers after non-essential businesses were ordered closed, leaving Americans without their usual grooming options. 
  • After initial reports of the outbreak sparked panic-buying among Americans who emptied shelves of supplies like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, consumers have since turned to baking supplies and in-home entertainment. 
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Americans’ buying habits have shifted throughout the weeks spent in isolation from an initial rush on basic supplies to staples of normal life like grooming accessories.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Friday on NBC’s “Today” show that sales data showed “that as people have stayed home, their focus shifted.”

“People are starting to need a haircut so you start to see more beard trimmers and hair color and things like that,” he said. “It’s interesting to watch the dynamic play out.”

The rise of hair dye and trimmers sales comes after cities and states ordered nonessential businesses to close in late March, leaving Americans without salons and barbers for the foreseeable future.

In addition to supplies focused on keeping up appearances, Americans have also been shopping for sources of entertainment like games and puzzles to pass the time in isolation, McMillon said.

Reports have closely monitored consumer behavior since the outbreak began to pick up speed across the US in early March when panicked shoppers emptied shelves of basic goods like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

After two weeks of quarantine, Americans turned their free time to cooking and baking, which outlets like The New York Times and Bon Appetit seized on to help cooped-up cooking enthusiasts relieve their stress with special recipes aimed at cleaning out pantries with simple or unexpected combinations.

Baking bread, in particular, has popped up on Instagram feeds from quarantined kitchens across the country as Nielsen data said baking yeast sales grew more than any other consumer packaged goods product in the last two weeks of March, shooting up 647% and 457%, respectively over the same weeks in 2019.

The shift from sanitary needs to grooming supplies is just one aspect of how the coronavirus pandemic is changing consumers’ changing attitudes, and part of what experts have predicted could be a permanent change to the retail world.

As public health officials have expressed optimism over some signs that isolation measures are working in “flattening the curve,” they have stopped short of asserting the country will re-open soon.

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