Shelf Stable Items See Drop-off as COVID-19 Boosts Wane

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The immediate consumer response to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders has been well documented. Grocery shoppers rushed to stores to buy in bulk and stocked up on items like toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and masks (link to previous blog).

As consumers have come to terms with the changes to their daily lives, and seen some movement restrictions relaxed, their shopping habits have transitioned accordingly. In this piece, we’ll take a look at how shelf-stable items have fared in recent months. 

AdAdapted’s grocery list data confirms what most could reasonably expect out of the panic buying that occurred in March; shelf-stable items experienced a significant spike in list-adds in the middle of the month before declining. Unlike other items that have remained above normal levels of consumption (link to previous blog), shelf-stable items have experienced a pattern of decline to below-normal add-to-list volume.

When comparing year-over-year, crackers, beans, and tuna all experienced significant upticks in add-to-list activity in March (like many other products). Each item followed this boost with lower than normal activity, possibly because shoppers overestimated their needs and still have more of these shelf-stable items on hand than they’re actually consuming.

However, this doesn’t mean shelf-stable items have fallen by the wayside completely. Shoppers are clearly still adding items with “canned” and “dried” as qualifiers at a higher rate than normal. Potential explanations include that consumers still have some doubts on whether they’re out of the woods or that the incorporation of canned and dried foods into their diets will have some staying power.

Tags: beans, canned goods, covid-19, dried goods, grocery list, grocery shopping, pandemic, shelf stable