Skip to content

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed what people are buying

A customer loads toilet paper into the trunk of his car after shopping at a Stop & Shop supermarket that opened special morning hours to serve people 60-years and older due to coronavirus concerns on March 20, 2020, in Teaneck, N.J. AP Photo/John Minchillo

It’s highly unlikely that any economist or trend expert could have predicted the hottest products of 2020: powdered milk products, medical supplies, and rubbing alcohol.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the items on everyone’s grocery lists, as people adjust to isolation and worry about shortages on seemingly random items (see: toilet paper).

Data from Nielsen Global Connect shows how consumer behaviors have changed with various items before the outbreak, after the first cases in the United States, and after suspected local transmission. Hover over each bar to see the exact percent increase or decrease for each product.


Before COVID-19 Outbreak (Dec. 28, 2019)

After first confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases (Feb. 1, 2020)

After suspected local transmission (Feb. 29, 2020)

Cookies on Northeastern sites

This website uses cookies and similar technologies to understand your use of our website and give you a better experience. By continuing to use the site or closing this banner without changing your cookie settings, you agree to our use of cookies and other technologies. To find out more about our use of cookies and how to change your settings, please go to our Privacy Statement.