As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread in Europe and the US, consumer behaviour is changing rapidly in response, new data shows.

The Consumer Spending Tracker for Measured Channels from IRI records FMCG consumer trends across markets in Italy, France, the US, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and Spain.

The latest index, for the week ending April 19, finds that across all markets sales continue to be higher than the previous year for the Home Care and Frozen Food categories; while other areas, including edible and non-edible, are starting to see less year-on-year growth.

In the US, shoppers are heading for the stores less often, but tend to buy more when they do go, focusing in particular on essentials for stocking pantries as well as buying more fresh food. The largest stock-ups in the US were for over-the-counter healthcare, baby care and water. Shoppers were not only stocking up on frozen products but were replacing those stocks.

The tracker shows less stocking up without replenishment taking place in the UK and Italy, which may be as a result of the speed with which the virus struck, or just limitations on space to store non-urgent products.

In the UK, consumers both stocked up and replenished necessities, with soup, dry pasta and noodles, canned meats, deodorants and personal wash items, household paper and vitamins in high demand. In Italy the focus was on basic ingredients, surface cleaners, and tomato products.

There is still increasing demand for online buying in Italy, France and Spain, with a focus on Click & Collect, that marks a clear trend towards e-commerce that began with the start of the crisis in all three countries.

Meanwhile in the UK, the extended lockdown has led many consumers to take a fresh look at what needs fixing and freshening up around the home. The result: a likely pent-up demand for DIY and home improvement products as the DIY retail sector starts to open its doors to customers once again, Retail Week reports.

Research from Kantar shows that 12.5 million households plan on tackling a DIY project in the near future, either in the home or garden.

Interior painting was the most popular activity, with 60% of people saying they planned to pick up a brush; and 40% say they are planning work on their gardens ahead of summer, while 27% of people say they’ll be painting sheds or fences in the coming weeks.

Sourced from IRI, Retail Week