10 unlikely items that are flying off the shelves during the coronavirus pandemic

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  • Many retail stores are hurting during the coronavirus pandemic, but some unusual items are experiencing a bump in sales.
  • Here are some of the top-selling items during the pandemic that you might not expect.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

US retail sales have been hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic, with an 8.7% drop in retail sales from February to March, but some unusual items are selling better than expected.

As the pandemic persists, consumer habits are shifting and analysts predict gloomy outcomes for the retail industry even after shelter-in-place orders subside, noting that holiday sales could plummet as much as 30%. Gas stations, clothing stores, and restaurants, among others, continue to be severely impacted as shoppers stay inside except for essential needs.

But not every consumer goods category is losing out during the pandemic.

Revenue that once came from brick-and-mortar stores has now largely been rerouted to online shopping. And while items you’d assume to be in high demand, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, have indeed become hot commodities – they’re not the only products that have seen a spike in sales.

Here are some unusual foods, electronics, and other items seeing a rise in popularity while we stay inside.


Spiral Hams

These little hunks of meat jumped 379.2% in sales compared to the past year for the week that ended April 11.


Hair Dye

With salons shuttered, people are turning to alternative tactics to fill their cosmetic needs. Hair dye soared 92.9% during the week that ended April 11 compared to the previous year, according to data from Nielson.


Baking yeast

As many people cooped up at home try to occupy their time or avoid getting take-out, baking has become a go-to hobby. Yeast sales jumped 245% during the week that ended April 11 and grew nearly 409.6% during the past four weeks, according to Nielson.


Webcams and radios

Webcams saw a 534% jump in sales while radios got a 244% bump March 22 compared to the first four weeks of the year.


Nail Polish Remover

As for acetone, Nielson reported sales grew 20.2% for the one-week period ending April 11 compared to the same week in 2019.


Pet supplies: Food, toys, and treats

During the pandemic, some pet owners are spending more on their furry friends. The transaction volume of pet supplies increased 711% the week of April 19 compared to the same week last year, according to data from Kount. And according to Criteo, cat food sales grew 401%, dog toys 167%, and small animal supplies 175% in mid-March compared with the sales averages during the first four weeks of the year.


Kombucha

Sales of some staple products such as milk and water have seen a rise. But less likely beverages, such as Kombucha, jumped 25.9% during the week that ended March 14, compared to the prior year.


Beans

Bean sales have been strong throughout the pandemic. In March,sales were up 237.2% for the week ending March 21. But going into April they have still maintained higher sales than the previous year, with a 56.2% increase for the week ending April 11, according to Nielson.


Fresh produce

Canned and non-perishable foods might seem like go-to purchases during the pandemic, and at first, they were. But Criteo reported a 600% increase in fresh fruit and vegetable salesMarch 22 as compared with the sales averages during the first four weeks of the year.


Popcorn

One of the prime snack foods Americans are reaching for during the pandemic is popcorn. Nielson reported a 30.5% sales increase compared to the previous year during the week that ended April 11.