Empty shelves are pictured at a grocery store in North Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 16, 2020. Statistics Canada says grocery store sales continued to be high in the week ending April 11, up 19 per cent year-over-year, but they were below the spike seen in mid-March when initial COVID-19 emergency measures were announced. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Empty shelves are pictured at a grocery store in North Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 16, 2020. Statistics Canada says grocery store sales continued to be high in the week ending April 11, up 19 per cent year-over-year, but they were below the spike seen in mid-March when initial COVID-19 emergency measures were announced. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Post-COVID grocery store sales high but below the mid-March peak, StatCan says

The March surge came as Canadians re-stocked depleted pantries

Consumers continued to buy more hand sanitizer, toilet paper, canned goods and baking supplies in April than before the COVID-19 pandemic even as the mid-March shopping frenzy started to die down, according to Statistic Canada’s latest data.

Retail grocery store sales jumped 40 per cent for the week ending March 21 compared to the same week last year, the agency said in a special report on how shopping patterns have changed since Canada stepped up its COVID-19 public health campaigns.

The week prior, sales soared 46 per cent. That week included Easter, as well as the introduction of a government advisory against non-essential travel.

The StatCan report, the second since the onset of the pandemic, covers a period from the week ending March 21 to the week ending April 11.

The March surge came as Canadians re-stocked depleted pantries and prepared to shop less frequently, among other reasons.

The sales increase slowed the last week of March and first week of April, with 12 per cent jumps compared to the same weeks in 2019, while the week ending April 11 saw a 19 per cent rise.

READ MORE: Toilet paper demand in Canada has skyrocketed 241%

Sales of health and personal care items slowed after the March surge, said Statistics Canada.

In the first week of March, for example, hand sanitizer sales increased by 792 per cent compared to the same week of 2019. By the week of April 11, hand sanitizer sales were up 345 per cent.

Soap, and mask and glove sales remained high in the week ending April 11 with 68 per cent and 114 per cent jumps respectively.

Bathroom tissue sales moderated, but were still 81 per cent higher that week.

Purchases of shelf-stable products moved closer to pre-pandemic levels, according to the agency.

For the week ending April 11, rice sales rose 12 per cent while canned goods rose 47 per cent and pasta jumped 49 per cent. In contrast, infant formula sales fell 15 per cent.

People continued to buy baking supplies amid ongoing efforts to remain at home.

In the second and third week of March, flour sales increased 208 and 207 per cent respectively.

READ MORE: Why did you buy that? Unearthing the roots of consumer choices in the pandemic

By the week ended April 11, that had slowed to an 81-per-cent increase. Butter and margarine sales rose 18 per cent, milk was up 21 per cent and eggs jumped 44 per cent.

Sales for Easter-related products remained similar to trends seen in 2019, with the exception of flowers.

At grocery stores, flower sales fell 47 per cent in the week leading up to Easter compared with the same week the previous year.

With the closure of many bars and restaurants, as well as authorities encouraging people to stay home as much as possible, Statistics Canada noted alcohol and coffee sales for at-home consumption increased.

In the week ending April 11, alcohol sales were up 46 per cent, while coffee filters saw a 68 per cent rise.

Hair dye sales jumped 75 per cent that week, but cosmetic products fell 33 per cent.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bystanders attend to a cyclist who is knocked to the pavement of Oak Bay Avenue. Witnesses say the cyclist was knocked off their bike in a dooring incident on Oak Bay Avenue at Fell Street at around 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 
(Daniel Opden Dries Photo)
UPDATED: VicPD tickets driver for ‘dooring’ cyclist on Oak Bay Avenue

Incident occurred at Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

Salon owner Philip Ferreira with the PPE collection box at The Natural Hair Salon, 618 View St. (Mariah Johal photo)
Victoria salon inspires more mask recycling

Anyone welcome to drop disposable masks in bin outside View Street shop

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria dine and dash brings $230 fine

Group paid the bill, police locate suspect who violated provincial restrictions, mistreated staff

Sidney and Central Saanich fire crews responded to a small fire at Eurosa Farms Tuesday evening. (Courtesy of Ryan Worsfold)
Small fire extinguished at Brentwood Bay flower farm

Family-run business sprang into action after smelling smoke at Eurosa Farms

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Most Read