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What we’re all buying to help us cope with Covid

May 22nd, 2020 8:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Adam Walsh of Fields Supervalu, Skibbereen. Baking products have been flying off the shelves. Photo: Anne Minihane.

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What are people spending their pandemic pennies on? Local businesses have been telling us what has been flying off their shelves and out their ‘virtual’ doors over the past few weeks

Helen Houten of the For Goodness Sake health shop in Skibbereen says people are stocking up on Vitamin C and D; Zinc; Elderberry; CBD oil; probiotics; organic flour and yeast; beans and pulses; rice; soaps; hand creams; body lotions, and hair dye.

Jenny O’Donovan of Cleary’s Chemist in Skibbereen says her customers can’t get enough of their multi vitamins (especially B, D and C); hair clips and hair bands; hair dye; hand sanitisers; La Roche Posay Cicaplast repairing balm; suncreams; wax strips and Decleor body oils.

Trish Kerr of Kerr’s Bookshop in Clonakilty gave us a peek at her best-sellers and revealed the top sellers are: (Fiction): American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins; Guest List – Lucy Foley; Apeirogon – Colum McCann; A thousand Moons – Sebastian Barry; Grown Ups – Marian Keyes; Actress – Anne Enright and Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens. And in non-fiction, her top sellers are: Educated – Tara Westover; 12 Rules for Life – Jordan B Peterson and in Children’s books: Murder Most Unladylike – Robin Stevens (series) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney (series).

Adam Walsh of  Field’s SuperValu in Skibbereen is selling ‘everything to do with home baking, as people obviously have more time on their hands so things like flour, baking powder and dried yeast. They were in short supply, particularly strong flour, but we’ve been able to bag them ourselves from our own bakery and keep shelves stocked.’

He says there’s also been a big rush on eggs, possibly linked to the baking craze. ‘Local egg suppliers really were the star of the show and we were very lucky to have them. That’s been the case with lots of things across the board and without the local suppliers we’d have been in trouble,’ Adam added.

But pasta, rices and pulses have been selling well, too. ‘Initially there were some shortages of chickpeas as every recipe was calling for them, tinned or dried! And of course people are being more adventurous with their cooking these days and trying things they may not have before. They’ve more time to think about things.’

Field’s bread sales are as strong as ever, both in the shop and with van deliveries. ‘But while our coffee shop is closed, our much-loved salad rolls are still being made and are selling very well in the shop,’ he reassured fans. ‘Disinfectants and cleaning products are obviously in big demand, too, and supply lines are returning now for the most part.’

Interestingly snacks and other treats haven’t spiked as much as you might expect but maybe because online orders have quadrupled in volume and those impulse buys aren’t there.

‘We had planned on increasing the shop by moving into O’Brien’s next door, but we’ve now moved the online and delivery operation in there and it’s working very well,’ he said.

Eoghan Scally of Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty agrees that flour is top of his best-sellers too. ‘Thankfully as we have our own scratch bakery in store, which comes with all the essentials, we have been able to start bagging flour for customers. Being stuck at home, people’s inner baker is making an appearance and it’s a great way to occupy a few hours of lockdown!’ he explained. ‘Yeast is also very popular at the moment. Again we are able to take supplies from the main bakery and make them available to customers. Fresh yeast is particularly popular and we are delighted to be able to offer this.’

Garden plants, house plants and all types of gardening equipment and furniture are flying out the door, too. People are now looking for summer bedding plants, in particular.

‘Given the increased amount of cleaning that’s happening all over the country, we have also seen a massive increase in people buying paper for cleaning. We have rolls of heavy duty cleaning paper which we can’t keep on the shelves,’ said Eoghan.

‘And to keep the children occupied, more and more people are looking for books, toys and DVDs. I suppose there’s only so much gardening they can do!’

Eoghan said that, as a lot of people seem to be having more family meals, a lot of people are experimenting with spices from the supermarket’s own souk. ‘We are getting a lot of enquiries about how to use the various spices, how to blend them and what dishes to use them in.’

Despite all of these, the biggest winner is actually the local produce. ‘We are so lucky here in West Cork to be in the heartland of great food and having so many fabulous food producers on our doorstep is a blessing in the current climate. People really seem to be getting behind our local producers and Irish produce and I know this will be a massive benefit to those producers in the difficult weeks and months ahead.’

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