March 12th was registered by most companies as the starting point of exponential growth on demand for a “war basket” of products, including mostly non-perishable items such as beverages, frozen foods, grains (rice, beans, flour, pasta, etc.), HPC, home cleaning with an emphasis on disinfectants and alcohol, and at drugstores masks, gloves, prescription drugs of continued use and some OTC basic items. During the first week, the average increase in sales for most ranged from 30% to 50% (with some items up more than five times) while other items of the regular basket suffered a sharp decline in demand. During the second week, demand hit even higher peaks at some companies, leading to massive out of stocks.
The beginning of April has already shown increasing declines in demand in addition to a change in the basket content, now with more items of weekly purchase, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, some beverages, dairy, and proteins.
The hypothesis of retailers from the supermarket channel is that the purchase of items for storage during a long period has already been made, and now shoppers are focusing on items that cannot be stored more than a few days as well as replenishing the already stored items as they are consumed.
Cash & Carry’s were severely impacted by the closure of bars, restaurants and all sorts of foodservice operations and other businesses that used to buy their supplies from this channel. In drugstores, the most requested items – masks, gloves, and alcohol – were sold out and drugs of regular use were already piled up at consumers’ homes. A similar impact was suffered by stores in shopping malls (that were closed except for supermarkets and drugstores, but the usual traffic of clients of the mall ebbed down) as well as on streets (empty after the restriction rules were implemented).
The problems for consumers augmented, with increasingly longer home-delivery delays, chronic out of stocks, errors in delivery, problems with payments (several companies did not have a solution for payment without contact with the person who delivers, which did not meet the requirements of consumers in isolation to avoid any contact), as well as packages that did not reduce the risk of contamination along the process from picking to delivery.