Cooking-related goods were selling like hot cakes online during the recent novel coronavirus outbreak as hundreds of millions of home-bound Chinese are finding creative ways to live and entertain themselves.
With authorities encouraging people to stay home to reduce the risk of infection, a rising number of people are searching for baking-related goods on online takeout and vegetable delivery platforms, the latest report by Meituan-Dianping, the country's leading on-demand service platform, said.
Sales of yeast, a necessity for making bread and pastries, soared by nearly 40 times while dumpling wrappers were sold seven times more than before. Seasonings were a hot item, with over 3.93 million onions, pieces of ginger and heads of garlic sold.
Data from Tmall International also showed that a UK multifunctional boiler, a Japanese sandwich maker as well as bread makers saw their sales soar 400 percent in its platform during the past one month.
Industry insiders pointed out that behind the rising consumption of cooking-related goods are the burgeoning development of a "home-bound" economy where people stuck in their houses tend to study cooking and shift some of their consumption habits from offline to online.
"The higher sales of goods are in fact a signal of the future new consumption trend. The country's consumption market is expected to embrace another starting point after the epidemic," said Fan Rizhao, a researcher from the new consumption research institute of Pinduoduo.
Meituan's report also noted that more than 40,000 bags of cat litter and 50,000 bags of cat food have been sold in the past one month. Sales of steel wire balls rose by 108 percent compared to the past, it said.
The unexpected outbreak has also changed the habits of people in buying food online. More than 60 percent of orders were placed before 12 am, while over 30 percent of residents from Shanghai booked their orders early, between 7 am to 8 am.
Among the groups of people buying food on Meituan's online platforms, those born after the 1990s are still the major force, accounting for 53 percent of the total. Consumers born after the 1980s also grew 7 percent to make up 36 percent of the total.
Notably, it seems uncommon for middle-aged and elderly groups to buy things using these platforms. Though they still made up a minor percentage of the buyers, they have become a new group with sizable consumption power online, the report said.
"The broken circle will bring new types of user groups, with new demands such as internet social networking, e-commerce, and content producers, that are especially targeting the elderly group," said Gloria Ai, founder of iAsk Media and Capital.