People are stocking up on food and essentials during coronavirus hysteria—and it's leading to spikes in sales for some interesting products

Supermarket shelves are starting to be emptied as people prepare for the spread of coronavirus in New York, United States on March 1, 2020.
Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Americans are flocking to grocery stores and wholesale clubs as the number of U.S. cases of coronavirus grows. But while many shoppers are on the hunt for canned goods, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, a new report from Neilsen finds that Americans are thinking beyond the basics.

There are now over 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 260 people who have been confirmed to have the virus in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The fear of coronavirus and its impact on global supply chains has led to significant spikes in sales of emergency supplies in China, the U.S. and Italy as shoppers rush to build what consumer research firm Nielsen labels "pandemic pantries."

This is already having an impact on U.S. retailers. Wholesale club Costco reported stronger-than-expected sales on Thursday, with the company attributing the boost to "concerns over the coronavirus." 

"February sales benefited from an uptick in consumer demand," Costco said. Overall, Costco reported sales for February were up 12.1%, more than the 7.5% that Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom had been calling for.

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But Americans aren't just stocking up on essentials. They're also purchasing other shelf-stable goods in case stores run out. Oat milk, for example, saw a 322.5% jump in sales during the week ending on Feb. 29, according to Nielsen. Sales of dried beans, canned meat and powdered milk are also on the rise. 

Here's a look at the eight types of items that Nielsen reports had noteworthy jumps in sales in the weeks since coronavirus started to hit the U.S.  

In addition to the rise in pantry necessities, Nielsen reports that sales of sanitation and safety items saw massive spikes. Household face mask sales in the U.S. jumped 475% during the week of Feb. 29, while hand sanitizer sales spiked 313%.

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Shoppers stockpile supplies as sellers price gouge amid coronavirus outbreak
Shoppers stockpile supplies as sellers price gouge amid coronavirus outbreak