9 Comfort Buys That Have Been Popular Amid the Pandemic

father and son opening an online purchase
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

First it was toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Then it was baking supplies and hair dye.

The pandemic lifestyle is upending shopping trends, lifting grocery prices and surprising even manufacturers and retailers.

Americans apparently have moved on from essentials to a comfort phase of pandemic spending. Many things enjoying an uptick in sales recently seem to be things that are designed to make us feel better and fill our time at home.

Here’s a look at several categories whose sales have soared during the coronavirus pandemic.

Entertainment

Monkey Business Images / Money Talks News

Entertainment products and services are overall the most popular nonessential purchases made during the pandemic, according to a WalletHub survey.

The survey found that 29% of Americans are spending money in this category.

Streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ have seen a surge in use, with home data consumption up 33% during the first 10 days of May 2020 compared with the same time in May 2019, according to the Comscore Total Home Panel.

What’s more, video games are having a moment: Gaming companies hit a record of $10.86 billion in U.S. sales from January to March this year. That’s 9% more than at the same time last year.

If you’re looking to save money on TV services during the pandemic, check out “4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less” or Money Talks News’ latest coverage of streaming freebies and deals.

Alcohol

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

Bars may have been closed in parts of the country to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but that didn’t stop people from drinking.

Information and data measurement firm Nielsen looked at alcohol sales for a seven-week period in March and April and found online alcohol sales skyrocketed 234% compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, sales at brick-and-mortar stores increased 21% compared with the same seven-week period in 2019.

By April 25, weekly online sales had grown 477% compared with last year.

Clothing

Art_Photo / Shutterstock.com

To say the pandemic had a profound impact on retail shops would be an understatement. By the fourth week of March, retail traffic was down 98% according to Vogue Business, which quotes Prodco Analytics, Cowen & Co. and Bloomberg Intelligence. However, people still want to liven up their wardrobes, and they are turning online to do it.

Online sales at Target, for example, have soared 141% compared with the year before, and NPR notes that Target shoppers have begun to shift to clothing and home goods purchases.

Beauty products

Makeup kit
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

People may not be out socializing, but they apparently still want to look their best. Beauty products are among the top five nonessential purchases being made during the pandemic, according to WalletHub. Its survey found 13% of shoppers say they are spending on this category.

Skin care company Tula saw a 400% spike in April sales compared with the year before. While spending is up, shoppers seem to be shifting their dollars away from specialty retailers such as Sephora and Ulta and buying on Amazon instead, Vogue Business says.

Electronics

Woman reading on a tablet
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Twelve percent of the people WalletHub surveyed said electronics were among the nonessential items they were buying during the pandemic.

It’s not hard to speculate that some of those purchases might be upgrades to home equipment for remote workers and students. Still others might be new electronics for improving the viewing experience of streaming services and video games.

Toys

Sidarta / Shutterstock.com

Kids need to be entertained during long days at home, and 5% of people surveyed told WalletHub that they’re spending money on toys.

Art supplies, board games and puzzles have also been hits among online shoppers. In March, 26% of the U.S. internet users polled by the American Association of Advertising Agencies said they planned to buy toys or arts and crafts supplies during the pandemic.

Puzzle maker Ravensburger had a 370% increase in sales in March. As the weather heats up, one company is reporting a 50% increase in sales of outdoor recreation equipment such as playsets, trampolines and basketball hoops.

Exercise equipment

Daxiao Productions / Shutterstock.com

Gyms and fitness centers were initially shuttered in many states during the pandemic, which led people to move their exercise routines to their homes.

In March, 15% of internet users surveyed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies said they planned to spend more on streaming exercise classes and equipment.

Knitting supplies

Mother, daughter and granddaughter knitting together
Blend Images / Shutterstock.com

Knitting seems to be a popular choice for people seeking a hobby to fill their time in quarantine.

We Are Knitters, an international online seller of knitting supplies, saw its U.S. sales rise 270% in March, Vogue Business says.

At one point, the company sold 8,000 knitting patterns in a 48-hour period. Its sales of beginner knitting kits for children have grown 750%.

Seeds

planting seeds
lovelyday12 / Shutterstock.com

As people focus on cooking food at home, many are also looking at growing their own — and seed companies are scrambling to meet customer demand.

On a normal day, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri, would have about 1,000 orders. But, on March 30, the company received 10 times that number. It was the biggest sales day in the business’s 22-year history, owner Jere Gettle told BBC News.

His business isn’t alone. Burpee Seeds, a top supplier of seeds for home gardens, even had to temporarily halt new purchases to clear its backlog of orders.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Generic products are a great way to save money, but sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts

IRAs come with bells and whistles that many other accounts lack — including some perks you may not know exist.

8 Ways to Snag Extra Savings at Walmart
8 Ways to Snag Extra Savings at Walmart

Are you aware of all these ways to boost your savings in Walmart stores and at Walmart.com?

How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes
How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes

Here’s how to strengthen your nest egg before or even during your golden years so these missteps don’t ruin your retirement.

5 Ways Your Phone Can Slash Grocery Costs
5 Ways Your Phone Can Slash Grocery Costs

These free apps and websites can help you get cash back on groceries, shop more efficiently or squeeze the most from the ingredients you have on hand.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

5 Secrets of Seniors Who Keep Their Minds ‘Young’
5 Secrets of Seniors Who Keep Their Minds ‘Young’

Here is why some seniors’ brains work as well as those of people who are decades younger.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.