Beauty, brains and brawn: What we are buying during the pandemic

Recent purchasing data from some of the country's biggest retailers has shown Australians will emerge from the coronavirus lockdown fitter, more talented, and with impeccable skin.

With stores such as Myer and Country Road closing their doors in recent weeks, shoppers have turned to online shopping to get their weekly dose of retail therapy, and as customers settle into new housebound routines some products are proving more popular than others.

Myer has seen a huge jump in the sale of toys, board games and puzzles.Credit:Edwina Pickles

A spokesperson for department store Myer said recent spending on beauty products, especially skincare, has jumped 200 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Intimate apparel, such as sleepwear, bras and undies, have also jumped between 100 and 400 per cent, though chief customer officer Geoff Ikin noted there had been "significant growth across all categories".

"Our website is performing particularly well, and our teams are working hard to get items to customers as quickly as we can," he said.

Country Road, which closed its doors last weekend, said it had seen a strong lift in demand for women's' sweats, track pants, jackets and puffer vests, and a "dramatic" increase in demand for men's denim and knitwear.

Both Myer and fellow department store David Jones reported a boost for audio visual and entertainment products, along with home appliances such as bread maker, kettles, toasters and coffee machines as more Australians substitute their takeaway lattes for a home-brewed cup.

Unsurprisingly, toys saw the greatest jump for any single category at Myer, up 475 per cent with particular demand for Lego, board games and jigsaw puzzles – the latter of which Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled as “absolutely essential” last week.

Managing director of eBay Australia, Tim MacKinnon, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald he'd been tracking the purchasing habits of Australians through different 'phases' of the coronavirus outbreak and had been surprised to see significant changes as the pandemic worsened.

"The first stage was health-related products, more vitamins, hand sanitiser, face masks. That's still strong now, but not as strong as it was," he said.

eBay’s Tim MacKinnon says Australians have notably changed their purchasing habits through each ‘phase’ of the pandemic.Credit:Wolter Peeters

"The next phase was pantry preparation, groceries, toilet paper, all the panic buying. Then the phase we went through a few weeks ago was people getting ready for quarantine, so we saw huge growth in home technology and home office goods."

"Then we saw the restricted living phase, people realising they can't go out. So that was sporting equipment, dumbbells, puzzles, and board games."

Mr MacKinnon says the phase Australians are currently in is the "new normal" phase, with equally strong sales across almost all categories as even the most everyday and mundane shop is taken online.

And if after splurging on a new pair of trackies or a sparkling new toaster you're still feeling lost, there's plenty of time to learn a brand new skill, with piano sales up a massive 226 per cent.

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