COVID-19 Online Shopping: Top 5 Main Categories

Now, we understand that Italy’s current situation is likely to have profoundly affected shopping behavior on Amazon, both in terms of demand and product selection. 

But where there is a strong awareness of the threat of the coronavirus in the United States and Germany, we can already observe significant changes in the demand for certain products. 

To highlight only the strongest trends, we have identified the top five main categories for each marketplace.

In Italy, in addition to significant market growth, we also see the most pronounced growth by percentage in ‘trending’ categories. 

Notably, ‘Sports & Outdoors’ grew significantly in both German and Italian markets, but Italy saw a growth rate 674% higher than the German market’s did. 

This hints that already established trends are likely to continue while the US and Germany now face increased home isolation.

Observable shopping trends in the US, Germany, and Italy so far include: 

  1. Groceries & Home Basics
  2. Survival Shopping
  3. Backyard Betterment
  4. Entertainment & Activities
  5. Indoor Fitness & (Solo) Outdoor Sports
  6. Home Office
  7. Bringing the Outside In

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #1: Groceries & Home Basics

There are two ways of understanding the surge in online grocery shopping: 

  1. As ‘replacement shopping’: purchases that are likely to have been made off Amazon (at a brick and mortar store) before the urgency to stay at home was introduced.
  2. For ‘stocking up’ on essentials, especially non-perishables both for reasons of both security and to limit the frequency or necessity of future shopping trips.
  • Food and home care (+47% in Italy)
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food (+26% in US, +34% in Germany)

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #2: Survival Shopping

Survival shopping means items that have an intuitive link between the virus and the demand for the product. More generally, medical supplies, and more specifically, e.g. air purifiers

  • Health & Household (+13% in the US)
  • Health & Personal Care (+19% in Germany*)
  • Appliances (+14% in the US) – mainly driven by air purifiers (+74%)
  • Business; Industry & Science (+39% in Italy – with the subcategory ‘Health and Safety Products’ +98%)

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #3: Backyard Betterment

Many might be inspired to divert funds usually spent on being out to spruce up their space. Especially as springtime vacation plans are canceled, no doubt Amazon customers are coming up with creative ways of making the most of their time spent in their own homes. 

Shoppers are demonstrating a desire to invest in their home and backyard, by purchasing things like gardening supplies:

  • Patio, Lawn & Garden (+44% in Italy, +35% in Germany, +9% in US)

We expect that this trend will strengthen as the travel restrictions tighten.

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #4: Entertainment & Activities

Perhaps the least surprising trend of the lot, people are of course looking for ways to entertain themselves with the means that they have available. 

  • Video Games (+31% in Germany)
  • Toys & Games (+10% in US, +36% in Germany, +30% in Italy**)

A glance at the subcategories seeing the most growth in each market suggests that shoppers are also looking to create and connect: We’ll get into that in a bit.

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #5: Indoor Fitness and (Solo) Outdoor Sports

One thing which these three markets undoubtedly share is a love for sports. 

That, and understanding that social distancing doesn’t strictly mean staying indoors, means purchases for ‘outdoor’ sports that can be done solo or require limited contact are a popular option. 

  • Sports & Outdoors (+236% in Italy, +35% in Germany)

Indoor fitness equipment is of course also popular as consumers are forced to forego trips to the gym.

We expect that this trend will continue as sporting events cancelations now ramp up in the USA and Germany. 

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #6: Home Office 

In the US, though orders and regulations varied quite a bit by state, for the most part, major moves such as (mandatory) school and business closures were announced between the 13th and the 16th of March – around the same time the CDC issued a recommendation that events exceeding 50 people should be canceled. 

Germany’s school closures followed roughly the same timeline, with closures announced on the 13th and implemented on the 16th of March for all states.

In both markets, business closures trickled in shortly after with a slightly messier timeline, coming in waves with pre-emptive/voluntary closures or work-from-home mandates mixed in. 

Save to say, few felt the urgency to work from home before the 13th in these markets. Of course, those dates are not yet represented in this data set (which is following purchasing trends until the 9th of March).

That being said, it’s plain to see that in Italy, where isolation has forced those who can to bring their work inside the home, outfitting the space will be a natural place to invest: 

  • Office Products (+43% in Italy)

We’re identifying this trend now because we have every reason to expect that it will follow shortly for Germany and the USA.

COVID-19 Online Shopping Trend #7: Bringing the Outside In

Customers are making purchases with the understanding that they are about to spend a lot more time indoors. 

Like ‘replacement shopping’ for groceries, but taken much more broadly. Consumers are naturally looking to bring the outside world in: To purchase products which help them keep up their regular ‘outside’ activities in their own homes.