More flour, less flowers: this is what Canadians bought during the pandemic


After a spate of panic purchases at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Canadians slowed their grocery spending somewhat, but sales in April were still well above normal levels in various categories of products, a new Statistics Canada report shows.

Sales at Canadian grocery stores more than 40% higher than last year for the second and third weeks of March, when most of the country was frozen and millions of Canadians stockpiled supplies to stay on site for an extended period.

Although sales have since declined from these highs, they were still more than 10% above normal levels until the end of the month.

And it is clear from the figures that Canadians do not panic by buying everything with the same zeal.

Bathroom tissue sales slowed, but were still 81% higher during the week of April 11 than they were the same week last year, the report said. This is down from the 288% increase seen in mid-March.

Paper towel sales are following a similar trajectory, up 227% in the first week of lockout, only increasing 49% a month later.

Hand sanitizer sales increased 345% in the week of April 11 compared to the same week a year earlier, while sales of masks and gloves increased 114% and soap sales increased increased by 68%.

With a restaurant or bar no longer an option, alcohol sales at grocery stores increased 76% in the third week of April, suggesting that Canadians were buying more products than usually “for diversion and comfort” inside their home, according to the report. said. Sales of home coffee filters are up 80% from a year ago.

The well-documented increase in demand for flour has seen some producers struggling to keep pace, as they seem unable to keep it on the shelves. Flour sales increased by more than 200 percent in the second and third weeks of March, and since then have remained almost double their normal level.

Some sales are down

But not everything sees higher sales. Statistics Canada says that sales of cold remedies have decreased 11% year over year and that sales of infant formula have decreased 15% compared to the same week of 2019.

Another product that saw its sales decline was cut flowers. Typically Easter sees an increase in these purchases, but not this year – sales are down 47% from last year’s level.

“Although many Canadians celebrated Easter, they appear to have celebrated at home in small numbers, or virtually, when the flower trade in person was cut,” said the data agency.

Sales of flowers seem to suggest that Canadians are less interested in beauty for beauty during the pandemic, and this is a trend that seems to be spreading to the personal care space as well.

“Over twelve months, purchases of cosmetics dropped 44% and supplies of hairstyling and haircuts fell 34% in the week ending March 28,” said the report.

In the hair care sector, Canadians do not seem to appreciate finding their roots, as sales of hair coloring products increased by 75% during the week of April 11. However, sales of cutting and styling supplies fell 33%. a hundred below last year’s level.

Family planning products are another category of products that has grown significantly. Pregnancy tests and condoms were soaring for the first weeks of March, but by April sales had returned to more normal levels.


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