Psychiatrists say that there are five stages of grief. Dealing with a pandemic is similar: First, you hoard essential goods, like toilet paper and paper towels. Then, you gradually move on to less urgent things, like baking supplies and entertainment gear. And now, as the coronavirus quarantine drags into its fifth week, shopping focus is turning somewhat essential again—to box hair dye and grooming kits.
At least that’s what Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, has observed lately in the world’s largest supermarket chain.
“As people have stayed home, their focus has shifted,” McMillon said on NBC’s Today show on Friday. “It started out as food and consumables, then they moved to things like puzzles and games…Lately we’ve seen more grooming products.”
“People are starting to need a haircut, so you start to see more [people buy] beard trimmers and hair color [products],” he added. “It’s interesting to see the dynamic play out.”
A similar trend is seen by marketing research firm Nielsen. According to Nielsen data, in the first week of March—when COVID-19 cases showed first signs of exponential growth—sales of hand sanitizer skyrocketed 470 percent from the same week in 2019. By the third week of March, the hottest-selling consumer product was baking yeast, whose sales jumped 647 percent from a year ago. At-home hair color products also saw signs of rising demand in late-March, with year-over-year sales growing six times faster than a week earlier, NPR reported.
The U.S. hair salon industry generates $47 billion in revenue a year, per IBIS World. But as hair salons and barber shops stay closed for the foreseeable future, a chunk of that demand will have to be fulfilled by at-home hair styling products.
As of April 6, 85 percent of the country had implemented statewide shelter-in-place measures, ordering all non-essential businesses, including hair salons, to close doors.