As the COVID-19 pandemic surpasses the one-year mark, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer has revealed some of the shopping trends it has seen in-stores across the Midwest. From easy meals and grab-and-go foods to home fitness and home comforts, these eight trends reflect the height of the shutdown to continued changes in home and work lifestyles.
“It was a year rife with challenge, and although it's not yet over, we see a light at the end of the tunnel," said Peter Whitsett, EVP of merchandising and marketing for Meijer. "As communities have begun to reopen, we're continuing to find new ways to be flexible as customers reshape their shopping habits for the warmer weather of a new year."
Shop & Scan
As home delivery and pickup services doubled at Meijer stores in the past 12 months, customers used its Shop & Scan technology more than 100 million times as they shopped and bagged while practicing social distancing to shorten time spent in the store, the retailer said.
Easy Meal Choices
With restaurants shuttered or operating as takeout only, Meijer saw an increase in grab-and-go and easy meal offerings. Some of the most popular choices, it said, continue to include rotisserie chicken, with more the 500,000 sold over the past month. Premade meals from local restaurants that Meijer partners with has been another quick meal option during the pandemic for some local communities.
At the height of the pandemic shoppers across the nation bought meat and toilet paper in bulk, but for Meijer, that trend veered into produce. The retailer said more customers stocked up on potatoes, tomatoes and apples in bagged quantities. Additionally, shoppers focused on boosting their immunity added oranges, lemons, grapefruit and supplements to their shopping lists.
The Health Bug
Staying healthy at home also meant building at-home gyms as local fitness centers shut down early in the pandemic. Fitness items such as yoga mats, exercise straps, curl bars and hand weights became hot sellers at Meijer stores at the start of the pandemic with more than a 300% increase in demand.
Meijer also saw an increase in bed pillow sales, selling more than 1 million in 2020 as customers added pillows to make working from home more comfortable, it said. Even though work from home is expected to eventually transition, Meijer said it anticipates the double-digit growth of bedrest pillows to continue this year.
Other home comforts that saw a sales rise include thermal curtains and weighted blankets, which grew more than 50% compared to last year, and spa-themed candles, which saw a 160% increase since the beginning of the pandemic.
Stuck-at-home customers turned to new video game hardware and accessories, board games and puzzles to keep themselves busy and entertained, noted Meijer, which said it sold more bikes, pools and grills than past years and saw more than a 60% increase in fishing pole and gear sales as an estimated 9 million new anglers picked up the hobby to fill their time.
Squeaky Clean and Orderly
Masks, hand sanitizer and surface cleaners were all top sellers throughout 2020, but disposable dishes, aluminum foil, baking paper and food storage also saw large increases as more meals, breads and other viral cooking challenges were prepared in homes than ever before, Meijer said. It noted that shoppers are focusing on home organizing and adding more environmentally safe cleaning solutions to their supply closets as the pandemic continues.
Because of stay-at-home orders early on and continued work-from-home trends, Meijer Express locations saw an expected decrease in gas sales; however, it did see an increase in customers seeking out different avenues as shutdowns reduced retailer hours. In addition to shoppers pickup up late-night snacks and beverages, Meijer’s 24-hour Meijer Express locations saw double-digit growth in firewood and propane sales for backyard gatherings and camping trips.
Additionally, scratch-off and weekly lottery sales were up more than 25% at Meijer stores and Meijer Express locations during the past 12 months.