The COVID-19 pandemic left more than destruction in its wake: it also sensitized millions of Americans to the need to scrupulously guard their personal hygiene.
While sales of hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes may have gone down as the COVID-19 pandemic fades from memory, the personal-care conditioning it brought about continues. Items like cold remedies, band aids, toothpaste and cold/allergy/sinus remedies are perennial staples, and though somewhat seasonal, aren’t going anywhere. The good news for retailers is that much of what resides in that section of the store will never go out of fashion, and the old reliables remain old reliables.
More companies are shifting their focus from health-and-beauty to health-and-wellness. Vitamins and supplements, upper respiratory medicine, pain relief products and oral hygiene continue to be leading sub-categories within the health and beauty aids (HBA) category. Others include soaps, first aid, sexual health, GI care and eye care.
When it comes to determining the most important HBA products for c-stores to stock in 2022, the numbers tell the tale. According to IRI statistics, for the 52 weeks ending March 28, 2022, the convenience store channel recorded:
- Sales of soap reached $51.1 million, down 65.9%. Within that category, hand sanitizer sales were $38.1 million, down 72.2%. Sales of liquid hand soap were $1.7 million, down 30.2%. Heavy-duty hand cleaner sales topped $84,000, down 49.4%.
- Internal analgesics recorded sales of $405.4 million, a gain of 11.9%.
- Upper respiratory products saw sales of $322.9 million, up 42.5%.
- Cough/cold/flu/sinus sales were $157.3 million, a 54.1% increase.
- In the subcategory of gastrointestinal products, sales were $141.8 million, up 15.4%.
- Antacid tablets recorded sales of $71.4 million, a gain of 15.8%.
- Stomach remedy liquid/powder recorded sales of $27.0 million, up 18.7%.
- Stomach remedy tablets notched sales of $19.9 million, a 25.4% increase.
With HBA, single-dose over-the-counter items and smaller package sizes are popular, since a great many consumers are content to stop in and pick up such items on a ‘fill-in’ or ‘emergency’ basis while preferring to buy larger package sizes with greater savings at supermarkets, pharmacies and both dollar and big-box stores.
Local community features must be considered. Stores located near schools, for example, would be wise to stock up on items like individual packs of facial tissues for kids. Near a construction site? Add SKUs of first-aid and skin-care items and bandages. Near a daycare center? Baby wipes, diaper rash ointments and talcum powder.
With larger numbers of Americans over the past several years purchasing CBD-infused creams and oils, personal care developers have started adding CBD to their formulations. Indeed, Euromonitor International recently estimated that the market for cannabis-derived products will expand by 1,200% by 2023.