Ice cream, hair color, nail polish and yeast are on the shopping list as North Texans continue to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Those were among the purchases Gary Huddleston, a former grocery store executive turned consultant for the Texas Retailers Association, found after NBC 5 asked for a snap shot of surprising purchases at grocery stores in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Huddleston says the product mix has changed from the pre-coronavirus to stock up to now.
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“Right now, they’re buying coffee. They’re buying snacks. They’re buying Blue Bell ice cream. A lot of stuff to stay at home and certainly for the children,” Huddleston said.
Sales of Blue Bell ice cream, he said, “are at record pace.”
Cheese, lunch meat, pasta and produce are also on shoppers’ lists and somewhat to be expected with children and families now eating three meals at home.
“I guess the other area that really surprised me was the baking area. Baking traditionally is only a big seller around the holidays, but now baking has exploded and yeast. Usually yeast doesn’t sell extremely well but today, yeast is selling really well,” Huddleston said. “Hair color and nail polish, that was a surprise.”
Huddleston said when North Texans felt the first impact of the coronavirus restrictions, “the panic buying, the stock up buying was very hard to manage” but now vendors and manufacturers are catching up.
“And I’d say today is better than yesterday and it’s gonna be better this week because all the distribution channels are open,” he said. “We’re able to get trucks in very easily now and so, it’s getting much better to put product on shelves.”
Huddleston also praised the grocery store workers making it all happen.
“They’re doing an incredible job,” he said. “And, we just want to thank them for coming to work in a difficult situation not only from the standpoint of their own personal health but also dealing with a lot more customers and a lot of issues that are not normal.”
Grocery store sales jumped nearly 26% across the country in March as Americans stocked up on food to ride out the pandemic.
Stores have made changes to limit the number of customers and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Huddleston said shoppers should continue to do their part, too.
“In many cases, we like the impulse buying. In this case, make as few trips to the store as possible. Get a list. Get what you want. We’ll check you out quickly. Then, come home,” Huddleston said.