“We have to stay outside”. Dog owners are familiar with this appeal, which can be found at the entrance of many shops as a sign with a depicted dog and reminds them that their four-legged friends are not allowed to come into the shop. Discounter Lidl is now expanding this announcement in the current partial lockdown. Hamsters are now also undesirable in the branches. Whereby the animal itself is not meant.
On the Instagram platform, Lidl sends a reminder to its own customers. You can see a drawing of a hamster there, circled in bold red and crossed out. “Against the background of the current situation we are unfortunately forced to adjust our door policy,” is written next to the picture on the discounter’s social media profile, decorated with emojis to make it clear to take this message with humor.
Whereby the background is quite serious. Because the hamster purchases in supermarkets and discounters have started again in this country, as figures from market researcher IRI and the Federal Statistical Office show. Above all, there is above-average demand for toilet paper, but also other hygiene products, plus flour, yeast and sugar or baked goods and, last but not least, long-life staple foods.
Lidl therefore demands consideration from its own customers. “Our goal is to be there for everyone equally, and we can only do that if everyone thinks of their fellow human beings and not just of themselves,” says the Instagram post, combined with the request, in future only to buy what you really need. “We’re not running away from you.”
140 percent more toilet paper
The reactions to this post are twofold: some are amused or celebrate Lidl’s marketing department, others seem to feel bullied and are outraged or angry.
But these days the appeals to rational shopping behavior are not only coming from Lidl. Competitor Aldi Nord also addresses consumers, also via Instagram. You can see a stick figure with a hat and a packet of toilet paper in his hand on the company channel.
“This is Paul,” is written next to it in capital letters. “Paul goes to Aldi Nord to buy toilet paper. Paul only buys as much as he needs. Paul is considerate of others. Paul is smart, “is the further message, which finally ends with a request:” Be like Paul. ”
Aldi Süd also reports that “in mid-October there was actually an increase in demand for certain products”. Up front: toilet paper.
The so-called corona tracker from market researcher IRI shows a rise in demand of initially 69.3 percent and then as much as 97.6 percent for calendar weeks 42 and 43, when the autumn holidays were in most federal states and the topic of accommodation bans caused a lot of excitement in this country the respective week of the previous year.
According to IRI, the plus is distributed across all regions, albeit with slightly higher values in the south of the republic, as well as across all forms of distribution, from supermarkets to discounters to hypermarkets and drug stores.
Data from the Federal Statistical Office point in the same direction. According to this, sales of toilet paper in mid-October were almost 140 percent above the level of the pre-crisis months August 2019 to January 2020. In the last week of October, in which the federal government announced the partial lockdown, it was only 84 percent.
“It is possible that the appeals from politics and business associations have at least partially had an effect,” suggest the statisticians. In any case, in the spring the numbers were massively higher; sales of disinfectants, for example, increased eightfold at the time. It is currently slightly more than double the pre-crisis level.
Not an issue at Rewe and Penny
Nevertheless, there is enough goods for everyone if they shop accordingly, assures retailers. “We take the development of demand into account in the ordering process, and when reordering products, the branches also take into account the respective local demand,” says Aldi Süd.
“Based on the experience of the past few months, we are monitoring fluctuations in demand very closely in order to avoid any delivery bottlenecks. Basically, we are prepared for increasing demand and currently do not expect any restrictions on availability. ”
There is therefore no reason to buy hamsters. Should it come to that, Aldi and other retailers limit the quantities. “If the demand for certain products in individual branches significantly exceeds the normal household quantities, the colleagues can, if necessary, opt for a restricted supply.”
At Rewe and Penny, however, that doesn’t seem to be an issue. In any case, the head office in Cologne reports “everything is normal” on request with regard to the demand in the approximately 5500 branches nationwide. Nonetheless, the number of sales, especially for hygiene articles, has been continuously above average since the beginning of the pandemic.