Sales of hand sanitizer notched the highest gain in the category over the period — up 838% — followed by bar and liquid soap (+65%) and antiseptics and disinfectants (+61%). Concern with keeping home, work and school environments clean is a driving factor behind American spending behavior on these products.
"We've entered a new era for cleaning. Hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and sprays are our constant companions, providing a sense of psychological security and control during a period of unknowns," said Linda Dupree, CEO, NCSolutions. "We're taking preventative measures seriously, and higher spending on these products is proof consumers are adopting new behaviors."
"I can't imagine the pressing need to clean and have these types of products on hand waning anytime soon," added Dupree. "As we venture out more, we're going to come into contact with more contamination points, from school desks to gym equipment and mass transit. We can expect sales of cleaning supplies to remain elevated for the long-term."
NCS has defined distinct periods of COVID-19 buying based on consumer spending behavior. During the Extreme Buying phase between March 11 and March 21, household spending on the cleaning segment jumped 164%, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. Months into the pandemic, consumer spending on cleaning supplies is still 23% elevated in the home-confined buying period compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
And yet, consumers continue to have trouble finding household cleaning products. According to NCS's findings, 38% of US retailers remain out of stock for household cleaning products for some part of the day, and 11% report being out of stock for most of the day. Shortages of cleaning supplies began during the extreme buying period, when 4% of US stores were stocked out of these products for most of the day. This rate continued to rise until June, when 11% reported stockouts. This percentage has remained constant throughout the summer, found NCS.
Other items with sustained elevated sales include laundry detergent, bleach, cleaning implements and supplies, cleaning pad sponges and cloths, dish detergent and gloves.