Walmart CEO Doug McMillon predicts that the next surge in "panic-buying" will involve hair dye and other beauty products. The retail chain has seen a massive uptick in sales of certain nonperishable items since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., but now a few weeks in, people are taking a longer view of self-isolation. McMillon believes that they will soon start stocking up on things like hair dye in massive numbers.
McMillon spoke to reporters on Friday, in an interview on The Today Show. He tried to drive home the message that supply lines for goods like soap, hand sanitizer and toilet paper are all strong, and there is no need for panic-buying, stockpiling or hoarding. He said that sales of these items are beginning to even out, while others are starting to spike. "Lately we've seen more grooming products," he said.
“Some people are expecting the unemployment figure could be higher than that of the Great Depression. Are you concerned we may actually see not just a recession, but a depression in this country?” @savannahguthrie asks @Walmart CEO Doug McMillon pic.twitter.com/tb1qQroX0h— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 10, 2020
"People are starting to need a haircut, so you start to see more beard trimmers and hair color and things like that," McMillon went on. "It's interesting to watch the dynamic play out."
McMillon also said that the stay-at-home orders and general social distancing advice have seemed to cause a spike in toys, puzzles and games to pass the time. He speculated that this might be related to children, most of whom are out of school for the time being.
"You can definitely see as people have stayed home, their focus has shifted," McMillon said. "It started out with food and consumables and then it moved to things like puzzles and games, things to entertain kids and educate children, as you would guess."
While McMillon and the reporters discussed some of the lighter aspects of social distancing, they also addressed the real anxiety around this unprecedented global event. McMillon acknowledged that it is hard for people to leave something like toilet paper on the shelves, but urged them to do so to ensure that their neighbors would have access.
"I think it's important that everyone know that our merchandise continues to flow," he said. "Hand sanitizer's been a little harder to come by. Our associates have it. We're working to put it on the shelf, but as soon as we do, it's gone. In the last five days, we've sold enough toilet paper for every American to have their own roll. There's been plenty of flow coming, but if everyone could just manage and buy week to week rather than stocking up at this point it would be helpful for everybody."
McMillon also discussed how his company is trying to ensure the safety of employees through this medical emergency, while still getting supplies into the hands of customers. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.