In Uncomfortable Times, We’re Buying More Junk Food

Chocolate “Chip” Cookies image

Times are hard. Countless people have lost their jobs or live in serious fear of where their next paycheck is coming from. Even those lucky enough to continue working remotely are largely homebound, and those on the front lines of this crisis are exposing them to significant extra risk for little or nothing in the way of extra pay.

It’s therefore not much of a surprise that Americans are stockpiling comfort food, as new data suggests. Though we don’t quite have a real-time picture of our shifting shopping habits, Nielsen data from the first days of March cited by Bloomberg (the publication, not the unsuccessful presidential candidate) shows that we’ve been buying treats like ice cream, popcorn, and potato chips at an increased rate. Additionally, the amount of pastry purchases jumped by over 18 percent.

Given that social distancing measures hadn’t taken effect in most places by the time the data collection period ended on March 7, you can expect those figures to increase at a nearly exponential clip once more recent data becomes available. There are a few factors that  might explain the rise: there’s the stress of the situation, the boredom of being locked inside away from judgmental people, and the fact that the restaurants we’d usually frequent are closed or else drastically scaled back.

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In short, it’s a boom time for “the types of food that may make [a consumer’s] social distancing even a little more tolerable,” Nielsen EVP of Manufacturer Client Success Laura McCulloguh told Bloomberg.

With bars closed and everyone drinking at home, drinking habits are also shifting—albeit in a different way. Bloomberg mentions that Beau Joie Champagne, a pricey maker of champagnes that start at $69, has seen a 40 percent uptick in recent sales, according to Jon Deitelbaum, CEO of Beau Joie parent company Toast Spirits.

“People are making the decision to drink better because they’re sacrificing experience,” he tells Bloomberg. “Even in the worst of times, people still want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ or celebrate their anniversary.”

So there you have it: people are buying more junk food and nicer booze to consume at home. Just because it sounds obvious and cliche doesn’t make it untrue. Here’s to hoping we can all celebrate with Veuve Clicquot and Doritos together once this is all over.




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