Top 10 Ranking: Tissue and Hygiene Product Availability During Coronavirus

From July 5 through July 18, toilet paper in Hong Kong saw the highest percentage point increase in out of stock rate (OOS%) for tissue and hygiene whilst toilet paper in Germany saw the largest absolute decrease in available online SKUs in the same period.

Across all home care categories under review, Brazil was the only Latin American market in the OOS% percentage point increase top 10 (toilet paper) and the SKU count decrease top 10 (all-purpose cleaning wipes). Asian markets, however, were most prevalent with South Korea appearing three times in the SKU count decrease top 10 (toilet paper, general purpose wipes, retail adult incontinence) and Hong Kong also appears three times in the OOS% increase top 10 (toilet paper, all-purpose cleaning wipes, general purpose wipes), showing that product availability in the Asia Pacific region continues to be impacted.

The Americas were also notably absent from both top 10 lists showing stronger product availability, with the exception of Brazil appearing once in the OOS% decrease top 10 (retail adult incontinence), showing that the other North and South American markets tracked during this time remained stable despite the worsening pandemic.

Getting product assortment and availability right is challenging at the best of times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on consumer markets worldwide, with many people working from home or unable to leave their homes.

Many consumers have turned to online shopping as the best way to minimise the risk of infection, and the pandemic also saw many consumers engaging in stockpiling behaviour which is leading to significant product shortages. In turn, this places a tremendous burden on e-commerce retailers’ supply chains and logistical infrastructure.

Some markets have been more resilient than others or already had more robust e-commerce networks in place. Looking at a snapshot of out of stock and SKU availability gives you a view of how different markets are handling the challenges that the pandemic has brought to online retailing.

When tracking product availability, it is important to track both out of stock % and number of available SKUs as they result in two very different shopping experiences. To deal with increased demand during the pandemic, some retailers removed SKU pages altogether, reducing the number of available SKUs instead of listing SKUs as out of stock. If out of stock rates are low, but the number of available SKUs is rapidly decreasing, it creates confusion for the shopper to see SKUs being removed without notification. On the other hand, if out of stock rates are high but the number of SKUs remains stable, then shoppers are more informed about the overall availability of products on a retailer’s website.

With Euromonitor International’s new global e-commerce product and price monitoring platform, Via, extracting millions of data points every day for standardised cross-comparison quickly reveals what product categories are selling out during key periods of the coronavirus outbreak as well as the dramatic implications these demand drivers are having on online retail pricing for select categories.

Using Via, we were able to quickly and easily examine more than 20 million daily SKU observations across leading e-commerce retailers in 40 countries. Moreover, the data clearly shows how the availability of selected categories and their pricing dynamics has changed during this period. Use our Coronavirus: Pricing and Availability Tracker to learn more.