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Mar 24, 2020

Covid-19 : Impact on consumption

Covid-19 Barometer : An unprecedented situation with an impact on consumption

  • Week 9: First impacts of Covid-19 on food retail
  • Health, hygiene and basic products dominate consumption among the Portuguese
  • Assortment dictates choice of store, but proximity should be more important

 Lisbon, March 2020 - The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are already visible in Portugal, contributing to an increase in food retail sales. The first edition of Nielsen's weekly Barometer on this topic, for week 9 of 2020 (February 24 to March 1). It points to a growth in sales in Hipers+Supers that totaled 14% among the food, detergents and hygiene and fresh products categories, while since the beginning of the year the trend has been at 6%.

Consumer concerns dictate consumption

The evaluation carried out by Nielsen reveals a reaction in consumer behavior to this pandemic, in line with the evolution of this situation on the European continent and in Portugal.

Nielsen identifies six stages of consumer adaptation to this new reality: proactive Health purchasing, reactive Health management, preparing the pantry, preparing for quarantine, living with restrictions and living under a new normal.


The beginning of the week under review was marked by the alert to the risk of a pandemic announced by the World Health Organization. At a time when the number of daily cases recorded in Europe exceeded those in China. In Portugal, the Directorate-General for Health warned companies of the need to define contingency plans.

In this context, there is an increased concern among the Portuguese about the health and storage of food products, exemplified by the higher values recorded for canned food (+42%), products rich in vitamin C (Kiwi +39%, Orange +37%, Tangerine/Clementine +37%) and basic products (+36%). Health and cleanliness concerns are also at the top of the growth among detergents and hygiene products, observable for Health Care (+40%) and Cleaning Accessories (+38%), where gloves are included.

The weight of the geographical factor

The reaction of the Portuguese was not the same throughout the territory: Lisbon, Setúbal, Leiria and Santarém were the first to react and it was in these geographical areas that consumption soared the most. For Lisbon, the 18% consumption recorded this week tripled the 6% trend seen since the start of the year; jumps in consumption were also apparent for Setúbal, Leiria and Santarém.


The coming weeks may show a different situation, as the first positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the north of the country.

The demand for different types of offer

The time is ripe for adaptation, with brands and retailers trying to respond to the needs identified among consumers in this period of unique challenges.

Trends can already be seen between the different types of stores: with a wider assortment, Hipers stand out with a growth of 20%, above the increases recorded for Super Grandes (+18%) and Super Pequenos (+5%). But it's to be expected that, as the weeks go by, the issue of proximity will gain more momentum.

Information will underpin new strategies for brands and retailers

It is still too early to fully understand how this pandemic will affect consumption patterns, change behaviors and dictate new trends.

As Patricia Daimiel, Nielsen's General Manager for Spain and Portugal, explains, "Today we are living in a truly unprecedented situation. In all markets and businesses worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the way we live, consume and work. We will all be impacted, without exception. That's why it's essential that, now more than ever, we stay informed about all the changes and new trends that are impacting each of our markets. It's essential to be alert and make assertive decisions that meet a panorama that is new for everyone, all over the world.


About Nielsen:

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement management and data analytics company that provides the most complete and reliable insight into markets and consumers around the world. Nielsen brings together its own data with data from other sources to help its clients around the world understand what is happening now and what will happen in the future, and how best to use that knowledge. For more than 90 years, Nielsen has been providing innovative, scientifically rigorous data and analysis, and continues to develop new ways of answering the most important questions facing the media industries. mediaadvertising, retail and FMCG are currently facing. Nielsen, a Standard & Poors 500 company, is present in more than 100 countries, representing more than 90 percent of the world's population. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.


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