Shopping Behavior for CPG Brands Continues Shifting Two Years After COVID-19 Declared Pandemic

Per Catalina Data, Many Categories Continue Outpacing Pre-Pandemic Spending

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, March 17, 2022 – Two years after the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, shopper intelligence leader Catalina has continued to monitor its Buyer Intelligence Platform to closely track the pandemic’s impact on buying behavior at grocery stores across the U.S. Many categories that experienced high growth during the pandemic’s first year have retreated partially, but remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. Other previously struggling categories have seen modest increases over the past year.

Also, in looking at the past two years of data beginning with the week ending Feb. 15, 2020, when coronavirus concerns first started to grow, shoppers made more trips than average in March 2020 when the pandemic set in, but drastically reduced trips that April as they began sheltering at home. The subsequent impact of lockdowns, masking and social distancing paved the way for a lasting decline in weekly, in-person shopping trips starting in May 2020, compared to the prior year. That trend continues as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continue to shift. While people by and large have been shopping less, they continue to buy more in-store. Spending per trip has increased by 22 percent on average, compared to pre-pandemic levels. Overall, average weekly spending on groceries has increased by 16%.

The Top 10 categories seeing the greatest sales growth during year one of the pandemic have either seen strong year-over-year increases since 2019 (pre-pandemic) or experienced declines last year. The majority are still above where they were when the pandemic began:

TOP 10 CATEGORIES Year 1: Dollars/Store Change 52 weeks ending 3/13/21 vs. prior year Year 2: Dollars/Store change 52 weeks ending 3/12/22 vs. prior year Cumulative: Dollars/Store change Year 2 vs. 2 years ago
Home Health Testing (Face Masks, COVID-19 Home Testing Kits, etc.) +251% +100% +602%
Liquid Hand Soaps +174% -57% +19%
Cheese Slices – Processed/Lite +141% -24% +83%
Bacon – Light/Turkey/Chicken +137% +39% +230%
Personal Moist Towelettes +108% -56% -7%
Refrigerated Snacks/Cakes +101% +16% +133%
Disinfectant Cleaners +98% -32% +34%
Camping Sports & Accessories +90% -16% +60%
Frozen Vegetables, Breaded +89% +21% +129%
Frozen Cookie & Brownie Dough +82% -5% +74%

A year ago, face masks accounted for 80% of the home health testing category. Their strong sales performance has continued even as masking guidelines established by the CDC have evolved, and COVID-19 home testing kits were launched in April 2021.

The data also reveals that people by and large are still conscious about fighting germs, just not as much, with sales for liquid hand soaps, personal moist towelettes, and household disinfectants all dropping in 2021, but currently still reflecting higher sales than pre-pandemic levels.

Three of the Top 10 categories are foods that continue to show an increased appetite for convenience and/or comfort, including processed cheese slices, bacon, refrigerated cookie & brownie dough and snacks/cakes, and frozen breaded vegetables. An outlier includes the camping/sports accessories category, which continues to reflect consumers wanting to spend more time outdoors.

The rise of home baking as a hobby has stuck, though not at the same level as Year 1, as categories like flour, condensed milk, baking extracts and waxed paper products have fallen, but are still higher than pre-pandemic levels. Scratch baking may not be quite as popular with yeast sales continuing to decline over the past year, but brownie, cookie and cornbread mixes continue to sell well.

SELECT BAKING CATEGORIES Year 1: Dollars/Store Change 52 weeks ending 3/13/21 vs. prior year Year 2: Dollars/Store change 52 weeks ending 3/12/22 vs. prior year Cumulative: Dollars/Store change Year 2 vs. 2 years ago
Flour +33% -22% +3%
Baking Extracts +33% -18% +10%
Condensed Milk +30% -10% +17%
Waxed Paper Products +44% -7% +33%
Baking Powder/Soda +22% -17% +2%
Yeast +5% -27% -23%
Cookie & Brownie Mixes +26% -17% +4%
Cake/Cupcake/Pie Mixes +21% -18% +0%
Muffin/Cornbread Mixes +32% -10% +18%

With most bars and restaurants either closed, open only for takeout, and/or offering limited seating, adult beverages experienced strong sales upticks the first year of the pandemic. There was a pull-back as more people started socializing and dining out again in 2021-22, though sales of alcoholic beverages are still above pre-pandemic levels.

SELECT ADULT BEVERAGE CATEGORIES Year 1: Dollars/Store Change 52 weeks ending 3/13/21 vs. prior year Year 2: Dollars/Store change 52 weeks ending 3/12/22 vs. prior year Cumulative: Dollars/Store change Year 2 vs. 2 years ago
Pre-mixed Cocktails/Coolers +64% +41% +130%
Domestic Beer/Ale +17% -6% +10%
Imported Beer/Ale +11% -6% +5%
Imported Wine +16% -12% +3%
Domestic Wine +13% -9% +3%
Spirits +18% -10% +6%

With so many Americans working or studying from home during Year One of the pandemic, sales of personal care products initially dropped but then started to recover as COVID transmission and hospitalization rates began to fall early in Year 2. They then started to decline again when the Omicron variant began to spread later in the year.

SELECT PERSONAL CARE CATEGORIES Year 1: Dollars/Store Change 52 weeks ending 3/13/21 vs. prior year Year 2: Dollars/Store change 52 weeks ending 3/12/22 vs. prior year Cumulative:Dollars/Store change Year 2 vs. 2 years ago
Wrinkle Reducers -32% +19% -18%
Breath Fresheners -38% +23% -24%
Face Cosmetics -29% +21% -14%
Cosmetic Remover -31% +16% -20%
Eye Cosmetics -20% +21% -4%
Hair Care/Styling -20% +17% -6%

Applying the Data
According to Catalina’s Chief Data & Analytics Officer Sean Murphy, Catalina’s data scientists and advanced analytics teams rely on the company’s extensive Buyer Intelligence Platform for insights on evolving shopping behavior. “By applying our analytics skills and a combination of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools to such data, we can more effectively help retailers and CPG brands identify relevant audiences and develop marketing, media and activation strategies that both predict and influence purchase decisions in real time,” said Murphy.

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About Catalina
Catalina is the market leader in shopper intelligence and highly targeted in-store and digital media that personalizes the shopper journey. Powered by the world’s richest real-time shopper database, Catalina helps CPG brands, retailers and agencies optimize every stage of media planning, execution and measurement to deliver $6.1 billion in consumer value annually. Based in St. Petersburg, FL, Catalina has operations in the United States, Europe and Japan. To learn more, please visit www.catalina.com or follow us on Twitter @Catalina.

Media Contact
Wally Petersen/Catalina
312-804-3475
wally@wrpcommunications.com

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