Following major global shakes, ones that either hit or impact the economy, consumption habits tend to witness drastic changes that say a lot about each crisis and its economic damage.
In the wake of the 1930s Great Depression, an unusual boom in lipstick sales was traced by economists, who interpreted it as an attempt by consumers to treat themselves with affordable yet luxury items, to make up for their declining purchasing power and to feel better about themselves. Similar trends followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2008 economic crisis.
But now, with the economic meltdown triggered by the Coronavirus outbreak, it's highly unlikely that lipstick will be the hype, especially that the on-going pandemic is forcing people to wear face masks everywhere they go. In several countries around the world, including the Middle East, wearing a face mask has become mandatory by law, and not wearing it has become punishable with heavy fines. For example, UAE residents who don't wear face masks while in public are subject to fines up to $800.
The face mask obstacle has inspired many people to try and predict the new item that will be purchased as an alternative to the lipstick during the current economic crash. Last March, the New York Times expected long-wear foundation or mascara to take over, while an April prediction made by the Business of Fashion linked frequent Zoom meetings to a possible spike in eye makeup popularity.
In the Middle East, online purchases skyrocketed in several countries, but the focus wasn't all on cosmetics.
According to a recent report by Gulf News, sales of clothing, watches, shoes, and bags declined by about 25% in the UAE, despite being amongst top sellers prior to the pandemic.
Throughout the last three months, during which most UAE residents were quarantined, sales of groceries, workout wear, home appliances, board games in addition to beauty and personal care products have been on the rise.
Companies are reaping the rewards of the quarantine baking frenzy. King Arthur Flour said its online sales of all-purpose and bread flour in March were up more than 2,000% year-over-year. https://t.co/OnhQCxSCbj— Adweek (@Adweek) April 27, 2020
The new habits and purchases also made an impression on social media conversations, as most quarantine posts referred to people's growing interest in cooking and baking, in addition to self-care practices.
If you take a look at the best selling items in UAE shopping websites, you'll see plenty of kitchen appliances, books, headsets, and personal hygiene products, all items to be used during home-stays.
Even though crises sales usually fade away as soon as economic recovery signs are felt, they do point at the severity of the economic damage at each stage, without ignoring its triggers and the consequences.
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