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

Mount Arrowsmith. Three skiers were rescued from the south side of the mountain on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 with one woman taken to hospital in Comox. (Nancy Randall photo)
Injured skier among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Kim Burden, executive director of the Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce. (PQB News photo)
PQBeat: Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden looks ahead

Podcast: Talk includes 2021 business plans in Parksville, Qualicum Beach, events and more

The Village Way and Highway 19A roundabout is the Town of Qualicum Beach priority for a grant application. (Google Map)
Qualicum Beach council favours roundabout over turf field project

Mayor believes road project has better chance of landing grant

Curling season is over at the Parksville Curling Club and Qualicum Beach Curling Club. (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Parksville and Qualicum Beach curling clubs forced to end season

Restrictions impact financial sustainability of both operations

(PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: No public attendance or participation for Jan. 18 Parksville council meeting

Citizens can still offer feedback via email, telephone or written submissions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke senior narrowly avoids lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building

‘Multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

sdf
2nd in-school violence incident in Mission, B.C, ends in arrest

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

(Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP say ice climber seriously injured after reportedly falling 12 metres near Abraham Lake

Police say man’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening

The new Malahat Skywalk is expected to be completed by this summer. (Submitted graphic)
Malahat Skywalk expected to be complete by this summer

$15-million project will see 650-metre elevated wooden pathway constructed

Most Read