The number of reported cases and deaths of COVID-19 continues to rise on an exponential curve across the world.
For the last month, people have been panic hoarding non-perishable foods, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper at grocery stores across the US and Europe. In a pandemic, some people have different priorities. We noted this as early as March 1, when the local news interviewed a man at a US Costco store, who bought boxes of condoms and a big jar of coconut lube. And it's not just safe sex products that people are purchasing. There's also a huge demand for marijuana.
We usually spend Saturday morning scouring the internet in search of panic hoarding videos of consumers fighting over toilet paper and or bags of rice at big-box retailers. However, we've covered the topic so much that it would be boring at this point to rehash what is already known.
So, an emerging trend among consumers in the Western Hemisphere ahead of a city or nationwide lockdowns has been the stockpiling of condoms and weed.
A shortage of condoms has developed at retail stores. Sex toy company Womanizer has reported that their brand of condoms has seen a 60% surge in sales in Italy, a 40% rise in France, and a 71% jump in Hong Kong. The company said sex toy sales across the world have also risen in the last month.
We were the first to note that virus-porn-themed videos by amateurs on Pornhub were becoming popular in early March. Since our reporting, the amount of "coronavirus porn" videos have jumped 10x on the site.
With consumers loading up on condoms and sex toys, their next move appears to be the purchasing of marijuana.
Bank of America recently said that higher demand for cannabis had been seen in the US as tens of millions of people are confined to their homes as the government limits mass gatherings and shutters businesses.
"Our checks across North America were consistent: regardless of region, cannabis purchases have accelerated," BofA analyst Christopher Carey said in a note. "While likely on pantry loading, it's not unreasonable to think there will be some boost to per capita consumption as people stay at home longer."
The explosive demand for cannabis was the most visible in California as videos surfaced on Twitter of long lines at pot shops after Gov. Gavin Newsom told residents across the state to "stay home."
Uh the line for MedMen WeHo right now pic.twitter.com/ChZoNf35An— Andrea Chang (@byandreachang) March 20, 2020
Los Angeles County has considered "cannabis dispensaries, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services," an "essential healthcare services," which means the industry will stay open during the pandemic.
To answer a popular question: cannabis dispensaries with a medicinal cannabis license are considered essential and may remain open. https://t.co/9f8LQDXWCP— Los Angeles County (@CountyofLA) March 20, 2020
Cannabis retailers in Clark County, Washington, were also allowed to operate during shutdowns. Shops reported an uptick in traffic because consumers are panic hoarding pot as the outbreak worsens, reported The Columbian.
"We've had much higher than average sales since last Friday," said Jim Mullen, co-owner of The Herbery, which operates two locations in Clark County.
Mullen said state laws limit how much marijuana a customer can buy at one given time. He said many customers had purchased the maximum allotment.
"People are stocking up," said Adam Hamide, co-owner of Main Street Marijuana, which operates two Vancouver locations. "They don't know what's going to happen."
Hamide said the number of items per customer has increased by 50% since last week. He noted that customers have been gravitating towards edibles more than flower in the virus crisis.
"Those shelves have been hit pretty hard in the last few days," Mullen said.
And there we have it, the evolution of panic hoarding has transformed over the last month from consumers loading up on food and supplies to now condoms and weed. What's next?