MANILA -- The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic forced everyone to live most of their lives virtually.
Since the enhanced community (ECQ) was implemented, classes, office meetings, religious services, and gatherings with friends only became possible because of the internet.
Retailers that had to close their physical store, on the other hand, took advantage of the digital norm, and continued to operate online to help mitigate their losses.
Similarly, instead of going to the physical store, enduring the long lines and risk catching the virus, some consumers are opting to shop online to reduce their chances of contracting the virus.
iPrice Group, a meta-search platform in Southeast Asia, studied the changes in consumers' product interests during the month of lockdown.
“iPrice Group took a look at the products that are gaining popularity on e-commerce sites during this dire period. iPrice Group aggregated thousands of product pages of more than 100 online merchants and compared the impressions of products on their platform between March 2020, the month the lockdown began; and November 2019, the month before the start of any COVID-19 cases in China,” Isabelle Romualdez, iPrice Group content marketing executive, said.
The report gave a glimpse on how the Filipinos are coping with the lockdown caused by the pandemic.
The risk of contaminating the virus and the often empty grocery shelves led many Filipinos to buy their groceries online.
According to Romualdez, the report showed Filipinos stocked up on food with long shelf life. Searches for canned food grew by 412 percent, while biscuits increased by 310 percent.
Since the lockdown, Filipinos have also taken more measures to disinfect surfaces, clothes, and goods. Views for disinfecting multipurpose cleaner spiked by 1,097 percent, disinfectant spray by 721 percent, and bleach by 721 percent.
According to the World Health Organization, one of the best ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus is by regular washing your hands or through the use of alcohol-based hand rubs if there is no available access to soap and water.
Since the outbreak spread, sanitation essentials quickly became one of the most sought out products. Interest in hand sanitizers grew by 2,207 percent, while impressions on hand soaps increased by 989 percent.
While medical face masks are now highly coveted, it was barely searched by Filipinos in November. As the impressions for the surgical and n95 masks immensely grew from zero percent to 100 percent, so did its price.
“Comparing prices between January and March, iPrice found that the average price of medical face masks (both 3ply surgical and n95 masks) rose by nearly 86 percent,” Romualdez said.
Other tools used to combat COVID-19 that became popular overnight are thermometers and vitamins. Searches for thermometers grew by 1,295 percent, while vitamins rose by 123 percent.
Although most non-food and non-sanitation product sales have taken a plunge, the demand in other miscellaneous goods boomed.
Medical masks, for example, aren’t the only masks that piqued Filipino interest. According to iPrice Group’s data, impressions on skincare face masks grew by 236 percent.
“Filipinos may be letting loose and pampering themselves more at home during this lockdown period,” Romualdez said.
Since the borders have been closed, all the long-awaited summer vacations are cancelled. The EQC mandate, however, did not stop some Filipinos from enjoying the season by turning their home into a mini-getaway.
More Filipinos shopped around for outdoor swimming pools as data showed searches for them jumped by 518 percent.
Since the internet is now a necessity, it is no surprise Filipinos looked for ways to make their internet connections faster and stable. The report revealed that searches for wi-fi adapters grew about 597 percent, while LAN cables increased by 150 percent.
According to Romualdez, the data the group collected also suggested Filipinos are looking for ways to keep active and fit at home. Impressions on gym dumbbells increased by 80 percent, while bicycles rose by 97 percent.
The interest in purchasing a bicycle could have also resulted from the suspension of all public utility vehicles.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the WHO warned citizens to avoid crowded places and observe social distance as COVID-19 is said to be transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets.
While online shopping keeps consumers indoors, some still worry about the safety of receiving their online orders, fearing they could contract the virus through fomites.
Fomites are objects or materials which could possibly carry an infection.
While experts believe the coronavirus can be contracted through fomites, according to WHO, the probability of catching the coronavirus from a package ”that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature“ is low.
Similarly, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the “coronavirus has poor survivability of on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.”
Since fomites risk infecting a person if he/she touches his mouth, nose, or eyes after coming in contact with the contaminated surface or object, the WHO reiterated everyone to avoid touching their face and to regularly wash their hands with soap and water.
While the internet has become our main gateway, it can also be a dangerous place. The National Privacy Commission (NPC) warns netizens to be vigilant of online scams and fake websites seeking to steal your data and money.
The NPC urged netizens to always be mindful when surfing the web, protect their personal data, and to never share their password to anyone.
For the full report, visit here.