Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The new normal: Google searches reveal America's COVID shopping habits

Data: The New Normal; Google Trends; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

As the pandemic enters its third year, some of America's COVID-era shopping habits — including strong demand for tequila and sweatpants — are here to stay.

Driving the news: Axios worked with Google Trends and the Schema Design firm to create The New Normal, which analyzes the products Americans have Googled since 2020. Items with a lasting increase in search interest help fill in the details of what our "new normal" looks like.

  • We have had to stock home offices for the long haul, leading to more searches for computer accessories, fax machines, scanners, computer monitors and printers.
  • Beauty and self-care products seem to becoming more mainstream after a stressful few years. We are googling more often for nails, skin care, hair care, massages and loungewear.
  • With more flexible time at home, we have been searching for items associated with home improvement and car upkeep: car parts, power tools, home and garden organization and decor.

We were forced to explore new activities to keep ourselves entertained while paying heed to CDC recommendations.

  • A surge of interest in roller skates, disc golf and card games seems to be sticking for now. So does cocktail making, with "tequila," "spirits" and "liquor" landing in the "new normal" category.

Another group of search terms saw big spikes in reactions to specific moments in the pandemic, but then cooled off.

  • Those include the 2020 toilet paper shortage, and the time then-President Trump dangerously suggested injecting bleach to fight COVID.
  • And the pandemic had little effect on search volumes for many everyday products, like eggs, dog food, coffee and salt.

What they're saying: "Trends data really gives us an honest insight into what people care about — and how our lives have shifted during the pandemic," Google Trends' Simon Rogers told Axios. 

  • Out of 5,000 different topics initially analyzed, "the outcome is a showcase of the top 300 keywords that did end up exhibiting a clear pattern due to the pandemic—a window into the ways in which our lives have changed,” Schema's Christian Marc Schmidt said.

Go deeper: Explore The New Normal project here.

Editor's note: This story originally ran on Jan. 12.

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