US shoppers are panic-buying goods amid coronavirus fears — here’s what will likely sell out first

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People are stocking up on food and medical supplies. Getty Images
  • US shoppers have started stocking up on masks, hand sanitizer, oat milk, nutrition bars, and more, according to Nielsen data.
  • US sales of hand sanitizer soared 428% in the week ending January 25 compared with the same period last year.
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The novel coronavirus has led to dire shortages at stores in China, Italy, and elsewhere in recent weeks as retailers grapple with supply chain disruptions and a surge in sales of certain products, such as face masks and hand sanitizer.

Some supply shortages may now be spreading to the US, as consumers rush to stock up on medical supplies and shelf-stable foods.

So what are people buying, exactly?

Nielsen data shows spikes in sales of masks, thermometers, and many shelf-stable foods starting as early as January in the US.

Here’s the list of products that saw some of the biggest sales increases in the week ending January 25 – which is the most recent data available – compared to the same week in 2019, according to Nielsen Retail Measurement Services.

These items will likely be among the first to sell out as people stock up on goods in preparation for a potentially wider outbreak of the virus.


Oat milk: 441% sales increase

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Oat milk is generally shelf stable, unlike dairy milk.


Medical masks: 428% sales increase

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These include surgical and N95 respirator masks.


Household maintenance masks: 218% sales increase

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Thermometers: 43% sales increase

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Hand sanitizer: 20% sales increase

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Fruit snacks: 10.4% sales increase

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Pretzels: 8.2% sales increase

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Cat food: 7.5% sales increase

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Sanitary pads: 7% sales increase

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Health and nutrition bars: 6.6% sales increase

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Vitamins: 5.4% sales increase

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Toilet paper: 5.4% sales increase

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Tampons: 4.5% sales increase

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Water: 2.4% sales increase

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