Sex toys, bikes, weed & seeds: What Aussies are buying during lockdown
We are definitely experiencing unusual times right now, and who knew toilet paper and hand sanitiser were going to be such hotly demanded products?
Now that the panic buying has somewhat died down, shoppers have turned their attention to products that can help them pass the time in the least stressful way possible.
We thought it might be interesting to delve into people’s shopping carts (figuratively, we aren’t really scrounging through people’s shopping trolleys) to see just what they are dropping cash on.
Very “Underbellyish” we know, but here’s what Aussies are secretly buying during lockdown:
Unless you are in lockdown with a partner, you’re likely to be left a little ‘high and dry’, shall we say.
So it’s probably not so surprising that sex toy sales are rocketing.
Adult Toy Megastore says it has seen sales triple in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re selling a lot of beginner toys … all our beginner ranges are very popular,” a spokesperson for the company told The Guardian in a recent interview.
“It definitely looks like people are saying: ‘I’ve got time, I might try something new.’”
The spokesperson told the publication it had experienced a number of significant sales boosts in recent weeks, all coinciding with major news announcements about the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand, Australia, and Britain.
When the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, sex toy sales tripled in all three countries, The Guardian reported.
This was followed by a doubling of sales in Australia and the UK in March when both countries announced bars would be closed.
Bikes, one of the less embarrassing and taboo items in people’s shopping carts, have been flying off the shelves.
Online bike store Bicycles Online has reported a 302 per cent increase in total sales of bikes, bike parts and accessories since mid-March, compared to the same period last year.
At the current sales velocity, the business will see over 2,000 complete bikes sold online in the month of April.
There has been a 267 per cent increase in city (urban/commuter) bikes, 170 per cent increase in mountain bikes and 156 per cent increase in kids’ bikes.
“It’s nothing like we’ve ever experienced at this time of year, sales are exceeding what we would expect to see at Christmas,” James van Rooyen, director and co-founder of Bicycles Online, told Stockhead.
“When you can’t spend money at the pub, restaurant, gym or on travel, riding a bike is a great way to experience a sense of freedom and enjoyment, especially for kids during the school holidays with limited leisure options. Bikes are also an excellent alternative to public transport during this time.”
In particular, there has been a huge surge in sales of entry to mid-level bikes rather than high-end specialist bikes typically sold to enthusiasts.
“Many of our new customers are just rediscovering cycling and wouldn’t consider themselves cyclists,” van Rooyen says.
“During this time, value is definitely a key driver during the purchase process but not at the expense of quality.
“The cost efficiencies of the online retail channel certainly aids this.”
Unlike other countries, Australians are comparatively wary about purchasing online.
More than 90 per cent of all bikes in Australia are sold through bricks and mortar retail, which is well behind the curve of other markets including the UK, US and China.
However, the COVID-19 lockdown and isolation measures are causing an expedited shift in purchasing behaviour, van Rooyen says.
“Australians are discerning shoppers and our challenge at Bicycles Online has always been to develop an online buying experience which equals or surpasses the in-store experience.
“It’s taken us a decade to develop and refine our platform, and with current circumstances driving more people to test it out, the feedback we’re getting is we have got our modelling right.
“This time of social distancing may be a turning point for the way in which people buy bikes in Australia.”
Well, for some it wouldn’t be Netflix and chill without a little bit of the green stuff – and no I’m not talking about money.
Marijuana sales are on the rise as well. In fact, Americans rank it up there in importance with toilet paper and face masks.
Since marijuana is legal for recreational use in some states of the US, there have been reports of increased sales.
According to UK publication The Telegraph, one store in Pennsylvania said the surge in demand mirrored the panic buying of toilet paper.
And five of the 11 states that marijuana is legal in have even lumped it in the “essential services” basket.
People are apparently stockpiling, probably because they’re stuck at home with nothing better to do.
But back on home soil, weed isn’t considered an essential item for those who just want to have a toke.
Interestingly though, a simple google search of “buy weed Australia” turns up a collection of online sellers.
Director of the National Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre Professor Michael Farrell told the ABC in late March alcohol was not going to be the only drug of choice in isolation.
“We saw in the Netherlands, a picture on the internet of a huge queue outside a cannabis cafe of people getting their stuff before the lockdown,” he said.
In Australia, buying marijuana for personal use is only legal in the ACT, so it’s a little more difficult to gauge if sales have increased.
However, Professor Farrell’s view is that people will definitely be consuming more of the drug.
“If people are isolated or contained in their apartment, they’re more likely to consume more of it,” he said.
“People don’t have the normal constraints of going to work and maintaining routine, so there’s less supervision and more capacity for people to do things they wouldn’t normally do.”
Definitely no surprise here, the consensus is Aussies are of course drinking more in lockdown.
Here are the stats according to a national poll by YouGov Galaxy: 20 per cent of Australians have bought more alcohol than usual during the pandemic, 70 per cent are drinking more and 33 per cent are drinking daily.
Clearly, the state governments’ booze restrictions didn’t have an impact.
Those memes were right, once the pandemic is over, we’re going to need AA.
All those green thumbs out there finally have the time to tend to their gardens.
This led to “unprecedented demand” for gardening products, according to The Diggers Club, Australia’s largest gardening club.
The organisation had to temporarily limit supply of its products to make “drastic operational changes” so it could keep up with demand.
Meanwhile, major seed suppliers like Eden Seeds and Yates, also reportedly struggled to meet rising demand and had to temporarily suspend orders and experienced significant delays.
And finally, we all know when we’re bored we eat, so the food delivery guys are being run off their feet
A world in lockdown means this change has happened fast—so fast that some online fresh produce delivery businesses like Coles and Woolies are having difficulty keeping up with demand.
The smaller online home delivery stocks are also doing pretty well in the current environment. One example is Marley Spoon (ASX:MMM), a company that supplies meal kits to your front door.
The company reported 46 per cent growth in its Q1 revenue, which hit a record €42.8m ($72.8m), and booked positive cash flow for the quarter.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a surge in demand as customers are staying home and are looking for reliable and safe ways to cook for their families,” CEO Fabian Siegel said.
“This has led to record revenue and more than 100 per cent growth in April, paired with very attractive customer acquisition costs. This new environment is a strong tailwind for our business, and as a result, our path to profitability is being accelerated.”