Strong sales of sanitizing products will continue even after COVID-19 pandemic

January 15, 2021

As grocery stores bustle with people throughout the day, with lines stretching out the door, workers sanitizing carts and mandatory mask usage, they still operate virtually the same way they did before COVID-19. Individuals circle through the produce section, the bakery and the butcher picking up their weekly groceries as routine. But before they check out, shoppers make one last stop where they usually would not: the health and beauty section. Before heading to the checkout lanes to pay, a mom picks up a six-pack of mini-hand sanitizers. An older man grabs a pack of face masks and latex gloves. Others stock up on cold and flu medicine, while some grab large packs of soap.

Hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE) are now widely accessible to Americans after months of shortages, allowing millions of people to add these items to their weekly shopping lists and in the process changing the response to future health crises.

Products like hand sanitizer, soap, flu medicine and some PPE have always been accessible to some extent, but after the country went into lockdown in early March, the supply of such products did not meet the increased demand. As a result, many people panicked and bought those products until they were out of stock. 

Kate Truscello, a teacher at the Laboratory Schools, said that at the beginning of lockdown she bought lots of nonperishable food, hand sanitizer and facemasks.

Manufacturers of PPE immediately began to increase production to meet the new demand. As a result, IBIS World, an industrial market research company, reports that the revenue of the PPE manufacturing market in the United States has grown by 10.6% or half a billion dollars in 2020 alone. 

These shopping habits reflect a new way of life. In almost every public location, people are wearing a face covering. Despite the CDC recommending a minimum of mask use, people also wear gloves, goggles and face shields. After leaving public places, people often will put hand sanitizer on. All of these practices were highly uncommon just a few months ago, and now seem commonplace.

Ms. Truscello said a new habit she adapted is keeping “a mini bottle of hand sanitizer in any place where [she] might need it.”

I think when I’m feeling sick I will be more inclined to wear a mask. If a little piece of cloth can help prevent my loved ones from getting sick, I’ll wear it.”

— Kate Truscello

This begs a question of what health habits will be like in a post-COVID-19 world. It seems like the public will be much more receptive to health practices after experiencing a pandemic and learning about the benefits of preventive measures against contagious diseases. 

“I think when I’m feeling sick I will be more inclined to wear a mask. If a little piece of cloth can help prevent my loved ones from getting sick, I’ll wear it,” Ms. Truscello said.

As COVID-19 slowly leaves the public mind space, individuals will keep buying hand sanitizer alongside their bread, masks along with their cereal and gloves with their milk to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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