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Stockpiling for the holidays: Gold, guns and groceries

What Consumers Are Really Thinking About Holiday 2020

Get “What Consumers Are Really Thinking About Holiday 2020”

Woman holiday shopping on device with Christmas tree background

As coronavirus cases rise to and beyond the numbers seen during the early peaks of the pandemic, there are signs that consumers are returning to their early buying patterns, including stockpiling and nesting.

As we move into the crucial Cyber Five period of holiday shopping, consumers appear to be more focused on safety and comfort than buying gifts. In fact, Signifyd Pulse data shows a marked rise in sales of the three G’s — groceries, gold and guns — items that consumers gravitate toward in search of security. 

And with new government restrictions in place — including lockdowns in the UK — sales of home goods in Europe are also on the rise. 

What you need to know
  • With governments reinstating strict COVID-19 restrictions, consumers appear to be reverting to their stockpiling and nesting behavior of the early pandemic days.
  • Gold, guns and groceries appear to be topping a lot of early online holiday shopping lists.
  • In the UK, which is under lockdown, home and decor items are flying off the digital shelves.

In an earnings call last week, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon noted the shift back to the frenzied days of spring when toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning products were rare commodities.

As goes COVID, so goes stockpiling

“I think the way to think of this is locally. It really does have everything to do with what’s happening with COVID cases in any particular community,” McMillon said.  “But the action is the same as what we saw before. They’re just stocking up on paper goods, cleaning supplies and dry grocery, should they need them.”

And in Europe, where UK governments in early November reinstituted a strict lockdown  — including the closure of non-essential stores — the online sales of home goods was up 307% last week over the same week a year ago, according to Signifyd data. 

In the U.S., where governments in different regions are instituting curfews and ordering some businesses closed, the sale of the three Gs are seeing a spring-like spike, Signifyd data shows. Online sales of Groceries & Household Goods were up 166% last week over the same week a year ago.

Not surprisingly, Centricity Inc., which tracks online ecommerce searches, has seen a keener interest from consumers in items such as paper goods, canned goods, spices, broths and canned vegetables, with demand up 60% to 70% in the last three weeks, Reuters reported. 

And yes, toilet paper once again has become a collector’s item. We know, because Twitter says so. 

But it’s not just groceries that are seeing a surge.

Precious metals category rises 179%

Commodities & Collectibles, a vertical that includes precious metals, rose 179% last week over the same week in 2019, Signifyd data shows. And Weapons & Accessory sales, which have risen and fallen with political and social events throughout the pandemic, were up again. Sales rose 65% in October over October 2019 and were already up 29% through the first three weeks of November with five days to go, including the busiest shopping time of the year.

McMillon in his comments acknowledged that the intense buying patterns tax even Walmart’s supply chains. But he also said that the retailer is better prepared for stockpiling behavior because of last spring’s experience. 

Mark Schiller, CEO of Hain Celestial Group Inc., which makes Terra chips and plant-based Dream milks, told Reuters that businesses farther down the supply chain are also in a better position than they were in the spring when the coronavirus emerged as a major disruption.

“We are far better prepared,” he told Reuters. “We have about 50 million more dollars of inventory on hand, of all the things that have the longest supply chain and the least amount of backups.”

And so, Stockpiling v.2 might go more smoothly than it did the first time around. It will be interesting to see whether the latest version of spending on comfort and security will take a bite out of cyber sales as the holiday shopping season marks its ceremonial kick off later this week.

Photo by Getty Images
Data provided by Signifyd Business Intelligence team

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Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].