Special Report

19 Ways Coronavirus Has Changed What Americans Buy

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11. Television and streaming services
> Change in sales: 20% increase
> Period: Mid-March over previous 4-week avg.
> What it means: Americans are watching an avg. of 71 min. more per day

According to a 2018 report from Neilsen, American adults spend an average of five hours and 57 minutes watching TV and video content. As Americans have become increasingly confined to their homes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, TV and video streaming have predictably gone up — by some estimates, by over 20% in the four weeks starting in mid-March compared to the previous four-week average. Applying this increase to the average time spent watching TV means American adults are now glued to their screens for over seven hours a day.

Increases vary by platform. HBO NOW is reporting a 40% increase in mid-March compared to its four week average. Roku has also reported a 49% increase in steaming on its platform in Q1.

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12. Starbucks
> Change in sales: 60%-70% decline
> Period: YoY, last week in March
> What it means: 2 fewer cups for coffee drinkers

In normal circumstances, an estimated 60% of American coffee drinkers go to a branded coffee shop, like Starbucks, at least once a month. These are not normal times, however. Starbucks reported a 60% to 70% decline in sales in the final week of March 2020 compared to the same week the previous year.

The average American consumes 3.1 cups of coffee per day. Applied to the average coffee consumption per capita, Starbucks sales decline translates to about two fewer cups per coffee drinker, on average.

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13. Frozen cookie dough
> Change in sales: 454% increase
> Period: YoY, first week of April
> What it means: 1,094 more cookies eaten per person in 2020

Sales of frozen cookie dough spiked in the United States by a staggering 454% year over year in the week ending April 5. According to a 2015 poll, Americans consume an average of 18,928 cookies over the course of their lifetime. Applying the sales increase in frozen cookie dough to lifetime cookie consumption in the United States, this means American adults now eat a total of 104,681 cookies — or an additional 85,933 cookies — over the course of their life, equal to 1,094 more cookies per year, based on average life expectancy at birth.

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14. Frozen pizza
> Change in sales: 92% increase
> Period: YoY, March
> What it means: 8 more frozen pizzas annually per household

In a typical year, Americans consume about 1 billion frozen pizzas — or about eight pizzas per household. But 2020 is not a typical year. Americans have been stocking up on nonperishable foods, and frozen pizza has proved to be particularly popular, with sales climbing 92% year over year in March. At an annualized rate, this means each household is consuming about 16 frozen pizzas per year — eight more than usual.

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15. Subway
> Change in sales: 40%-80% decline
> Period: YoY, in March
> What it means: 2 to 4 fewer footlong subs per capita annually

The Subway restaurant franchise reported about $11.3 billion in sales in the United States in 2016 — equal to about $32 per person. Recently, store owners have had trouble selling sandwiches, with franchisees reporting anywhere from a 40% to 80% decline in sales over several days at the end of March 2020.

At an annualized per capita rate, this means Americans are spending about $14 to $27 less per year on Subway sandwiches — or anywhere from about two to four fewer footlongs per year.

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