Analysis: America’s Love Affair With Donuts (& Other Junk Food)

The first Friday of June marks National Doughnut Day, which was started by the Salvation Army way back in 1938 to raise money during the Great Depression while also honoring members who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

With National Doughnut Day right around the corner, we thought this would be a perfect time to dive into online demand data for junk food: Does National Doughnut Day drive online demand for donuts like it does for brick and mortar locations? Did COVID-19 drive a spike in demand for salty and sugary snacks? And if so, is online junk food demand still high now that things are starting to open back up?

Our data science team analyzed market demand for junk food from 2019 through 2021 so far to find out the answer to these questions and more.

When is online demand highest for donuts?

Let’s start with a quick look at the daily demand for Donuts for every day last year:

Online demand for donuts was remarkably consistent throughout 2020. April 28th was the largest single-day for donut demand, while the day before St. Patrick’s Day (which was right around when COVID lockdowns began) was the second largest. Several of the biggest days of the year were all in the days immediately following initial COVID lockdowns, suggesting they drove a modest increase in demand.

National Donut Day, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to really move the needle for online demand for donuts, suggesting the holiday drives far more business to local bakeries and donut shops than widespread online demand.

While demand for donuts is remarkably steady, we suspected that wasn’t necessarily the case for most other types of junk food. So we dug deeper into the data by comparing relative change in weekly demand for different types of junk food:

This chart shows how much total demand increased or decreased compared to the average week throughout the year for each major category of junk food.

As you can see, demand for most types of junk food started last year below average. As millions of Americans start the year out with well-intentioned new year's resolutions, demand for chips, candy, soda, cookies, and desserts were all well below annual average.

Unsurprisingly, desserts, cookies, and candy all received a substantial bump during Valentine’s Day. In mid-March, as the pandemic began to spread and people began sheltering in place, demand for all types of junk food shot up.

Demand for chips nearly doubled the annual average during the week of March 15th, easily the largest immediate surge in our analysis. Demand for candy experienced the second largest peak, but somewhat later, during the week of March 29th.

After clearing out virtual (and physical) shelves early in the pandemic, demand stabilized by early summertime before peaking dramatically during the holidays. Demand for desserts peaked at a massive 208% increase during the week of Christmas. Demand for candy and cookies also peaked during that week, while demand for soda and donuts remained stable. Demand for chips, meanwhile, hit their annual low during the holiday season.

To underscore just how much the pandemic affected online demand for certain types of junk food, let’s examine total daily demand for chips, as they were the category that appeared to receive the largest COVID bump.

Demand for chips skyrocketed overnight as Americans prepared to shelter in place, hitting its apex on March 16th. Again, demand remained solidly high the rest of the year before dropping during the holidays.

2020 was obviously a rather unique year, so we next wanted to better understand how COVID-19 may have changed demand for junk food.

How did COVID-19 impact online demand for junk food?

In the previous section we saw demand spike in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, but for a clearer view on the long-term impact, we next compared demand in 2020 to demand in 2019.

2020 started out as a strong year for online snack sales. Demand was up for each category in January 2020 than in January 2019, with chips experiencing the strongest start to the year.

As the previous section suggested, and this chart reinforces, COVID-19 began to have a tremendous impact on demand in March. Demand skyrocketed for several types of snack foods, with demand for chips increasing by an astounding 204% year-over-year last March.

Demand for cookies also peaked in March, with a 149% increase over 2019, and demand for soda and candy nearly doubled.

Demand remained extremely high in April, although most categories saw year-over-year increases fall to slightly less dramatic levels. Demand for soda, interestingly, hit its year-over-year peak in April, likely driven by the in-store shortages the country was experiencing at the time.

Desserts also experienced a larger boost in April than in March, perhaps due in part to Americans turning to online shopping to supply their socially-distant Easter celebrations.

Year-over-year demand fell over the summer and fall for each of our categories, but still remained well ahead of 2019s figures. So despite an initial surge, it’s clear that 2020 remained an unusually strong year for online junk food sales.

Interestingly, donuts saw far more modest year-over-year increases, with demand in October actually falling behind 2019. It could be that donuts weren’t really people’s junk food of choice last year, or perhaps most were simply more willing to mask up for a visit to their local bakery when they had a craving for fresh donuts.

Is online demand still high for junk food in 2021?

It’s clear that 2020 brought a surge in online demand for all sorts of junk food, and that demand appeared to linger throughout the entire year. But have those trends continued this year? Is online demand for snack food falling as things begin to reopen? Or are we doing more stress eating than ever?

Let’s take a month-by-month view of total demand for 2019, 2020, and 2021 so far to see how things have looked so far. We’ll examine each category in a separate chart, starting first with chips:

Online demand for chips in January and February of this year outpaced the same months in 2020, but March saw demand both slightly from February’s total and far behind March 2020’s high-point.

Cookies have seen an even more dramatic example of the same trend:

As with chips, cookies started the year with a strong January and February, but this time the drop in March was even more dramatic. Demand also dropped from February to March in 2019, so this could also simply be the return to a typical seasonal trend.

Examining this view for soda, however, provides more evidence that online demand for junk food may be slowing somewhat. Once again, demand dipped somewhat from Feburary to March, and again from March to April.

Demand for desserts is also following a similar trend:

It’s still early in the year, but between these categories, there’s some evidence that online demand for junk food may be slowing somewhat as the pandemic begins to slow and things begin to reopen.

One category that didn’t see a decline from February to March was candy:

Demand for candy rose by 37% from February to March to hit its highest point of any month in our analysis. This is likely due to the combined impact of St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, which fell on April 5th but likely increased demand for candy in late March (a theory reinforced by demand dropping precipitously in April).

Overall, it appears online demand for junk food is softening. Whether this is due to a combination of more people returning to shopping at brick and mortar locations, or if people are simply looking to eat healthier as the world begins to reopen — your guess is as good as ours. Either way, we’ll be keeping an eye on these and similar trends in the weeks and months ahead.

A lesson for brands

Our data shows that COVID-19 has had a major impact on online demand for snacks and junk food, impacting some types far more than others.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may continue to see online demand for junk food decline as more people begin to go out to get a sweet snack or some baked goods. However, we might also see demand stay high as people have grown more accustomed to buying snacks online when looking to eat their feelings.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Sept 6, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 6th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon announces new inventory and distribution service, AWD Amazon has launched Amazon Warehousing and Distribution (AWD), providing inventory and distribution services to its sellers as a means of addressing current supply chain issues. AWD is now available for sellers using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), i.e. outsourcing their fulfilment to the platform. Amazon has plans to expand the service outside the platform in 2023. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/02/amazon-introduces-new-service-to-help-solve-supply-chain-challenges/) Amazon Web Services (AWS) launches in the UAE AWS, Amazon’s cloud-computing platform offering, has launched its second region in the Middle East and now provides its services in the UAE. The move will now allow anyone in the UAE who utilises cloud technologies to harness AWS’s advanced platforms and APIs. An estimated $11 billion USD is expected to be added to the UAE’s GDP thanks to the implementation, with an average of 6,000 external vendor jobs to be created annually. AWS is now available in 87 zones across 27 regions, with sights set on expanding further across Australia, Canada, India, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/30/amazon-web-services-launches-region-in-uae/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Lazada to launch in Europe Alibaba-owned ecommerce platform Lazada is set to launch in Europe, marking a refreshed internationalisation push from the company. The move follows toughening economic conditions and performance in Southeast Asia, advancing the need to tap overseas markets. In Europe, Lazada will face tough competition from giants like Amazon and Zalando. Lazada’s exact entry strategy is to be confirmed and will be reliant on macroeconomic and market conditions, according to Lazada CEO James Dong. [Read more on DigitalCommerce360](https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2022/09/01/alibabas-lazada-to-take-on-amazon-zalando-in-europe-push/) Chinese ecommerce giant Pinduoduo to launch cross-border platform in the United States Pinduoduo, a Chinese ecommerce giant rivalling Alibaba and JD, has announced it will be launching a new cross-border ecommerce platform. The marketplace is set to launch in the United States next month, as part of the company’s larger push into new markets. Pinduoduo found success in China thanks to its rock-bottom price offerings and harnessing of social commerce marketing, emulating strategies similar to fast-fashion giant Shein. [Read more on Yahoo Finance](https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/pinduoduo-launch-international-e-commerce-034129263.html) Alibaba launches its biggest B2B sales event, ‘Super September’ China ecommerce giant, Alibaba, has now launched its month-long B2B sales event ‘Super September’. The event provides 40 million buyers and 200,000 suppliers with the ability to connect on the platform, showcasing a ‘virtually unlimited’ number of products. The event hopes to foster new cross-border business relationships to tackle supply chain challenges currently faced by businesses. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/01/alibaba-launches-super-september-b2b-sales-event/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Klarna’s losses quadruple in first half of 2022 BNPL provider, Klarna, has reported losses of $581 million USD for the first half of 2022. This figure is almost four times larger than a year earlier, where $129 million USD in losses were reported. The company attributes the losses to employee costs, technology investments, and rising credit losses. Klarna’s figure reporting comes amidst worsening economic conditions, fresh legal and regulatory scrutiny, and pressure from Big Tech competitors. [Read more on The Financial Times](https://www.ft.com/content/483451db-9221-4ca4-83a6-b4ddc6bfcfbb) [Read more on the Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/aug/31/klarna-losses-more-than-triple-as-consumer-spending-slows) One fifth of Snap employees to be laid off amidst poor financial performance Social media platform Snap (‘Snapchat’) has announced it will be laying off 20% of its employees and closing out a number of projects following a year of poor financial results.The move will see 1,200 employees globally lose their jobs, saving the company an estimated $500 million USD in costs. Snap is currently valued at $20 billion, an 84% decrease from its valuation of $130 billion last year. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/01/snap-to-lay-off-20-of-its-workforce-and-wind-down-a-number-of-projects/)
Aug 30, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 30th August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon set to shut down Amazon Care Amazon is closing its telehealth service, Amazon Care, which launched in 2019 as a trial program for its headquartered employees. Later the service was rolled out nationwide for employees and other companies. The ecommerce giant has now made the decision to move away from the healthcare space, believing it was not the right long-term solution for its enterprise customers. [Read more on CNBC](https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/24/amazon-is-shutting-down-amazon-care-telehealth-service.html) Peloton closes new deal to sell on Amazon Following a recent deal, Amazon customers will soon be able to buy Peloton fitness equipment on the marketplace, marking Peleton’s first move outside a direct-to-consumer model. According to Peloton’s CCO, there are already around half a million searches on Amazon for Peloton products every month, despite having no presence on the marketplace. Some key products include the original Peloton Bike, retailing for $1,445 and Peloton Guide for $295. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/24/peloton-strikes-deal-to-sell-fitness-equipment-on-amazon/) --- Other Marketplace News --- 60% of Malaysians are buying from local sellers on Shopee A recent survey of nearly 3,500 respondents found that nearly half of the shoppers prefer to purchase from local sellers due to shorter delivery times. Other shoppers decide to shop locally due to the quality of the products made in Malaysia and an interest in keeping the economy running. As a result, smaller local merchants have been able to grow their businesses, and shoppers benefit from shorter delivery times, products of high quality and supporting local businesses. [Read more on The Malaysian Reserve](https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/08/25/around-60-malaysians-are-buying-from-local-sellers-on-shopee/) Flipkart’s social commerce platform Shopsy crosses 100 million users Flipkart launched a social commerce arm, Shopsy, in July of last year, which has now surpassed 100 million users, ahead of its target timeline being the end of 2022. This acquisition of new users has made Shopsy one of the largest platforms of its kind in the country, and is expected to onboard a further 100 million by the end of 2023. The platform is centred around boosting local entrepreneurship and powering ecommerce for consumers across tier 2+ regions where users face challenges around trust and navigation when shopping online. [Read more on Business Standard](https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/flipkart-s-social-commerce-platform-shopsy-hits-100-million-users-1220828006851.html) Meta joins Amazon and Walmart in bid for Indian ecommerce market Amazon mentioned earlier in the year that it would be building a logistics division in-house through its purchase of a 51% stake in Ecom Express, an end-to-end logistics firm, to make ecommerce deliveries more efficient in the country. Walmart operates Flipkart in India and is set to continue its investment in the marketplace. In an effort to compete in the Indian ecommerce market, Meta has partnered with Indian ecommerce company, JioMart, to offer customers a grocery shopping platform within its WhatsApp chat feature. [Read more on Pymnts](https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2022/meta-joins-amazon-walmart-indian-ecommerce-market/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Ecommerce in Spain worth €57.7 billion in 2021 Spanish ecommerce saw 11.7% growth compared to last year, largely attributed to cross-border sales. In the final quarter of 2021, ecommerce sales in Spain were at €16.9 billion euros, at least 60% of which came from cross-border sales. Transactions from foreign locations to Spain generated a turnover of €1.56 billion in Q4, a growth of 27.7% compared to Q4 a year before. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/ecommerce-in-spain-was-worth-e57-7-billion-in-2021/)
Aug 23, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 23rd August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to add mental health support to primary-care service Amazon is set to move into mental health therapy with its primary-care division, following its recent acquisition deal of One Medical. The plan is to partner with virtual behavioural therapy service, Ginger, to offer its Amazon Care users with on-demand access to mental health services, licensed therapists and psychiatrists. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/11/amazon-plans-to-add-mental-health-support-to-primary-care-service/) GMB union calls for £15 an hour minimum pay at UK Amazon warehouses Amazon recently offered its warehouse workers a 3% pay rise, which in comparison to the June inflation rate of 9.4% left employees disappointed. Following this, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers stopped work last week, protesting against the minimal pay increase, seeking a minimum of £15 an hour. Recent protests consisting of employee walkouts and sit-ins aim to get a better offer out of Amazon. [Read more on The Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/aug/09/gmb-calls-for-15-an-hour-minimum-pay-at-amazon-warehouses-in-uk) Amazon third-party sellers have received their first-ever holiday fee hike Amazon’s third-party marketplaces account for close to half of the company’s online sales. The company introduced a 5% fuel and inflation charge to its third-party sellers earlier this year, and has now implemented another inflation increase charge. Commencing 14 October, any seller who uses Amazon’s fulfilment service is subject to the price hike, which is set to be an additional 35 cents per item for products sold in the US and Canada. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/17/amazon-third-party-sellers-have-received-their-first-ever-holiday-fee-hike/) Amazon puts a pause on UK grocery shop roll-out as the cost of living increases Amazon has slowed down on its UK roll-out of till-free Amazon Fresh grocery stores following disappointing sales and the rise in cost of living. Allegedly, the company is no longer looking for potential sites to expand and if more stores are opened, they will likely no longer use a till-free system, as consumers become more cautious about spending. [Read more on The Telegraph](https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/08/21/amazon-pauses-uk-grocery-shop-roll-out-following-disappointing/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopee overtakes Alibaba across international markets Shopee has surpassed Alibaba and taken the top spot for sales outside of China. Singapore-based marketplace saw a year-on-year increase of 51.4% at the end of Q2 of this year, while Alibaba saw a 3% drop during the same time period. This can be seen as a promising development for start-ups and their ability to compete with some of the largest ecommerce giants in the market. [Read more on Exchange Wire](https://www.exchangewire.com/blog/2022/08/18/shopee-surpasses-alibaba-in-international-sales-amazon-searches-for-entertainment-exec/) H&M reopens its official store to Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce platform It has been nearly 18 months since Alibaba removed H&M from its Tmall platform, following H&M’s criticism of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. It is estimated that over a million people, predominantly minorities in the area, have been unlawfully detained in camps across the city. Brands including Nike, Adidas, Burberry and Converse were swept up in the controversy, however H&M was one of the first to be targeted for speaking out about the issue. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/16/hm-returns-to-alibabas-tmall-platform-16-months-after-xinjiang-controversy/) Klarna launches new feature allowing UK consumers to view full online order history Buy-now-pay-later company, Klarna, has launched a new feature on its shopping app, which allows UK consumers to view their full online order history, regardless of whether they purchased the product using Klarna. The feature also shows delivery tracking and aids consumers in managing their online purchases more conveniently. [Read more on The Industry](https://www.theindustry.fashion/klarna-launches-new-feature-allowing-uk-consumers-to-view-full-online-order-history/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Online marketplaces responsible for £280 billion business turnover in the UK Nearly 900,000 UK businesses are currently selling on online marketplaces, generating an estimated £282 billion worth of sales each year. This figure represents 6% of the UK’s annual business turnover, highlighting the notable contribution that marketplaces make to the UK economy, along with the potential for further growth in this area. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/09/online-marketplaces-responsible-for-280-billion-business-turnover-in-uk/)