Snacks & Candy

Coronavirus Drives Purchases of Snack Foods

Shoppers stock up on more than disinfectant, toilet paper
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — At stores across the country, shoppers grappling with canceled spring break trips, indefinite school closures and coronavirus-fueled anxieties sought comfort in bags of chips, pretzels, cookies and popcorn.

While the aisles that used to feature an array of hand sanitizer, disinfectants and toilet paper have been empty for days, sales of salty and sweet snacks are increasingly in demand, evident by a Denver Trader Joe’s, the snack aisle of which was nearly empty.

Over the weekend, a Safeway store in Denver smartly displayed assorted chips and cheese snacks on multiple endcaps, along with canned soup—another hot commodity since the coronavirus outbreak. As parents pushed their carts past the endcaps, kids cried out for salty snacks and moms and dads quickly acquiesced, adding bags to their carts.

Sales of cookie variety packs were up 20.3% for the latest week ending March 7 vs. the same week the previous year, according to New York-based Nielsen. Salty snacks such as pretzels (14.8%), cheese snacks (11.5%), popcorn (9.5%) and pita chips (6.1%) were also up for the latest week over the previous year.

Nielsen further finds that sales of certain long shelf-life products are skyrocketing. Dried beans (62.9%), rice (57.5%) and powdered milk (126.3%) are all up significantly from the week ending March 7 vs. the same week the previous year. 

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