Toilet paper sales back up as coronavirus shifts shopping habits

Toilet paper sales back up as coronavirus shifts shopping habits

Toilet paper sales in Belgium are back up as supermarkets report that customers have adapted their shopping habits as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey of major food retailers in the country conducted by Radio 1 showed that customers were buying more first-necessity products, frozen food and goods with a longer shelf-life.

"Typical products —such as toilet paper— are bought more now than in other periods," Delhaize communications official Roel Dekelver said, adding that sales for products like pasta, rice and frozen food were up by 15%.

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A similar trend was reported by competitor Carrefour, with one spokesperson saying that customers were increasingly shopping in bigger quantities, presumably to have to come to the shops less.

"People buy a lot of things that last for a long time," spokesperson Aurélie Gerth told VRT. "We see that people are opting to do one big shop once, rather than to come for smaller purchases several times a week."

Speciality culinary products, as well as organic and fresh food sales, are also up, with retailers linking this to the general closure of bars and restaurants in the country.

"We see that quality products such as fresh fish or organic vegetables are doing extremely well now," Gerth said.

One spokesperson at Lidl also saying that they were selling a lot more fresh products, suggesting that "people had started cooking for themselves.

As fresh food sales go up, ready-made or on-the-go products are selling much less, with retailers saying that workers' move from the office to the home means they need products like wrapped sandwiches or pre-packed salads less often.

Online shopping has also seen a significant boost in popularity at both Delhaize and Carrefour, with the former reporting that the number of people who did their grocery shopping online had nearly doubled compared to the same period last year.

Retailers stressed that there were no indications for a repeat-scenario of the hoarding wave and buying panic triggered by the onset of the first wave of the pandemic in March, saying that, just as they did back then, supermarkets had more than enough products in stock.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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