From toilet paper to beer. How has the Spanish shopping basket been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic?
AS news pictures fixated on peoples’ bulk load buying of toilet paper, some people may be surprised to find that it has been surpassed as the most popular on the shopping list during the coronavirus lockdown.
The first and second week of confinement has taken a turn in homes as the purchase of beer has shot up 77.65 per cent compared to the previous week, followed by wine with 62.7 per cent and 36.58 per cent of other alcoholic beverages, according to a study by the consumer magazine Inforetail. “In the last two weeks, the number of visits by each consumer has decreased and the volume of individual purchases has slightly increased, in accordance with the recommendations of the health authorities. These purchases reflect the confinement experienced by the Spanish population,” says Felipe Medina, general secretary of the Spanish Association of Distributors, Self-Services and Supermarkets. The report also reflects a moderation of the large purchases of two weeks ago, those reminiscent of the queues of sales in El Corte Inglés. The highest peak occurred between March 11-14, just before the decree of the State of Alarm.
Other spectacular leaps have been in olives +93.82 per cent, chocolate +79.04 per cent and ice cream +76.19 per cent. What’s more, the consumption of flour has shot up to 196 per cent compared to the previous week as people have chosen to set up home bakeries to kill time. But why are these changes taking place in the shopping cart? Is there any sociological or psychological explanation?
Times of stress and anxiety may have forced people to reach for comfort food or alcohol to help them relax. These have a therapeutic effect. The consumption of alcohol and sweets has an effect of increasing endorphins, which occurs at high times of stress.
The wine sector is experiencing an unusual rise in sales in March in Madrid. “We are doing Christmas numbers,” says Julián Ribalda, e-commerce director of Lavinia, one of the main stores in the sector. “We have detected a small change: if our usual range of purchases were wines between €15 and €25, now more the range of €8 to €15 are bought.”
Olga Castanyer is a specialist psychologist in Clinical Psychology and author of the book Assertiveness: expression of healthy self-esteem. Castanyer explains that the purchases of these last two weeks are caused by high levels of anxiety that are occurring. “You don’t eat steaks when you’re under stress. What the body wants is sugar and fats. When we are locked up, the brain asks us for a prize: like chocolate, sweets or simple beers. We are used to living based on schemes and what we are experiencing now we have never experienced. So, it is good that we maintain the social customs of the past: glasses of wine at home, olives… the Mediterranean culture.”