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The unexpected new currency of the coronavirus era

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Thesis upon thesis will be written about COVID-19, and a large chunk of them will focus on how consumers reacted to a global pandemic.

When faced with the threat of the shutdown of civilisation as we’ve come to know and love, many of us resorted to a DIY attitude, taking bread-baking, entertainment and health in general into our own hands.

As marketing expert Jana Bowden, of Macquarie University said, not one part of our lives has gone untouched by the virus.

“COVID has changed literally every aspect of our lives. From the big-picture level of how we view the world around us down to the way in which we conduct our daily activities and lives,” Professor Bowden told TND.

Items like sewing machines, pushbikes, gym equipment and seedlings have never been so popular.

We continue to see curious trends emerging in Australia’s buying habits.

It started, of course, with toilet paper, followed by a rush on puzzles (spurred on by PM Scott Morrison) and then comfortable clothing, as we all settled into working from home.

Freight company Verus Global has had a first-hand look at Australians’ purchase patterns.

It has noticed a stark uptick in the volume of furniture and redecorating goods being ordered into the country.

“Australians are spending more time at home than ever before; it’s clear people are realising the importance of an enjoyable and comfortable living space,” company CEO Jackson Meyer said.

Even though we’ve been house-bound for the better part of the past five months, the humble puffer jacket is a hot commodity.

Kathmandu believes it will post a $70 million earning this financial year – and yes, that can’t be directly attributed to the puffer jacket, but it’s playing a starring role.

The ripple effect of the virus is presenting itself in small but interesting ways across the globe.

In the US this week, Unilever has reported a massive slump in sales of personal hygiene products.

They surmise people are skipping the morning shower and even the deodorant, because they don’t have to leave their homes to work or socialise during lockdown.

On the upside – at least for Unilever – Americans are still eating.

“Consumers have eaten more soups, used more meal kits and accompanied their meals with mayonnaise and ice-cream as dessert,” Unilever boss Alan Jope said.

Unilever’s ice-cream brands (including Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum) have seen a 26 per cent increase in at-home ice-cream sales in the past two months.

(This could have been spurred along by the drone-delivery service Ben & Jerry’s launched in February.)

Of course it’s summer in the US, so we can’t quite see those patterns reflected in Australia yet.

Fingers crossed we’ll all be free to visit Mr Whippy by the time our summer rolls around.