Since May 13 — when the CDC announced relaxed mask wearing guidelines for individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 — over-the-counter sales for cold, cough, and allergy medications have increased sharply (when compared with the previous year).
According to the CDC, the 2020-/2021 flu season was virtually non-existent in the U.S. — with a total of just 2,124 confirmed flu cases between Sept. 27, 2020 and May 15, 2021. What’s largely thought to have curtailed the common cold is home quarantining, social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and face mask usage when people ventured out during the pandemic.
But with mask mandates and lockdowns ending across the country, sales of OTC cold and cough medications are rebounding – signaling a significant increase in cold, cough, and allergy transmissions. Brands including Vicks, VapoCOOL, Mucinex, Hyland’s, Zarbee’s, and Sudafed have all experienced triple-digit sales growth during the four weeks following the CDC’s announcement.
Children’s OTC Meds See Skyrocketing Sales
According to the Catalina Buyer Intelligence Database (which captures purchase history data of more than 2 billion Universal Product Codes), same-store dollar sales for children’s cough and cold remedies increased 564% for the four weeks ending June 12, 2021, compared with the same period in 2020.
The Hyland’s brand saw the biggest percentage increase for children’s cough and cold remedies, rising 773%, with Mucinex rising 759% during the same time period.
Meanwhile, sales of children’s analgesics (pain relievers/fever reducers) climbed 78% — with Motrin up 96% and Tylenol up 76%.
Combating Colds, Coughs, and Allergies in Adults Drives Sales Increases
For the four weeks leading up to June 12, 2021, vaporizer sales increased by 151%; cough and cold remedies grew by 84%; and cough and throat drops/lozenges sales were up 53%, compared with the same four-week period in 2020.
The same seems to be true for allergies. As we collectively head outdoors without masks covering our noses and mouths, allergy medications have seen a sharp increase in consumption — with Mucinex sales surging 151% and Sudafed up 116%.
The allergy/sinus relief category is up 19% overall, for the same four-week period, compared with the previous year.
Unveiling an Abrupt Slowdown in Mask Sales
With many states, cities, and businesses lifting mask mandates, the need to stock up on face coverings has dwindled. Sales in the home health testing category (which includes face masks) dropped 62% over the four weeks ending June 12, compared with the same period in 2020.
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