Clothing, Appliances, and Cosmetics: What Americans Buy Most Often

Americans Buy Most

Americans buy most often online and spend billions of dollars on shopping but the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the shopping landscape and priorities of many families. 

An American household earning an annual income of $78,635 spent about $20,000 on consumer goods in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the most recently available data published on Sept. 10, 2019. In this article, we’ll review what consumer goods are, listing the different types of products and services American consumers spend their money on before and during the pandemic.

Although Amazon and eBay are the obvious choices for online shopping by the American public, classified ad sites like Craigslist, Gumtree, Americanlisted, and Shoppok (to name a few) are also sharing a bigger slice of the online eCommerce industry. 

What Americans buy online and offline depends on many factors and one of the biggest is their budget and priorities. But 2020 is different. Priorities are shifted on food and health care so let’s take a look at what products Americans Buy Most often.

Before the Pandemic

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an American household earning an average income of $78,635 before taxes in 2018 had an average annual expenditure of $61,224. The average amount spent on specific consumer goods categories includes:

Food at home: $4,464

Food away from home: $3,459

Apparel and services: $1,866

Vehicle purchases: $3,975

Gasoline, other fuels: $2,109

Personal care products and services: $768

Entertainment: $3,226Top 15 products: In 2019, Americans spent on the following products (in order). 

  1. Gasoline
  2. Potatoes
  3. Tobacco
  4. Beef
  5. Medical Care
  6. Rent
  7. Pork
  8. Energy
  9. Dining Out/Takeout
  10. Meat/Poultry/Fish
  11. Dairy
  12. Chicken
  13. Airline Fares
  14. Groceries
  15. Alcoholic Drinks

Due to inflation, Americans did not spend much on electronics compared to basic needs like food, shelter, medicare, and transportation.

How the Coronavirus pandemic changes the trend

The year 2020 is totally different than in previous years due to lockdowns and business restrictions. People have no choice but to buy online. Although the eCommerce industry seems to be increasing, the brick and mortar sector has been hit hard. 

Here is what Americans are buying in 2020 during the pandemic



  • Food (dried/shelf stable/packaged)
  • Food (meat/alternatives)
  • Food (snacks)
  • Food (fruits and vegetables)
  • Food (MRE – ready to eat meals)
  • Beverages


  • Aerosol disinfectants
  • Thermometers
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Multipurpose cleaners
  • Bath and shower wipes for waterless bathing
  • Toilet paper
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Antiseptic products
  • Tissues
  • Bath and shower soap
  • First aid kits
  • Cold and flu remedies
  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap
  • Cough remedies
  • Vitamins
  • Antibiotics

Declining categories:

  • Perfume
  • Sunscreen
  • Vegetable party platter
  • Pet toys

Aside from food which is obviously needed by everyone, the following are the top products Americans Buy Most often right now.

1. Cloth face coverings/cloth face masks

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended people wear cloth face covering while in public to slow the spread of coronavirus, many retailers have started producing their own face masks. While these masks aren’t medical-grade, they are better than going out in public without any covering at all. We’ve covered where to buy [quality fabric face coverings], retailers selling stylish face masks, and companies who are donating to communities with the purchase of a mask, and our readers have continued to buy them in an effort to stay safe.

2. Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer continues to be a sought after product, which comes as no surprise. While more retailers have started producing and selling hand sanitizer, individuals keep trying to get their hands on this essential item. While the CDC says that washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to protect yourself against COVID-19, using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when you’re out running essential errands is still an effective way to eliminate germs. If you are low in stock, you can still find some hand sanitizer on the market.

3. Cleaning wipes and spray

Cleaning wipes are really hard to find right now. After hours of digging, you still might not come up with anything (we know the struggle). But thankfully, the disinfectant spray is more readily available and is an essential product for cleaning surfaces that may have been in contact with the coronavirus. We’ve been keeping an updated list of every retailer who still has both cleaning wipes and spray in stock.

4. Toilet paper

Similar to cleaning essentials, toilet paper is a pretty much essential product that people are still after. While we’ve seen an increase in stock lately, it’s still hard to find online. We’ve been updating our list of places to buy toilet paper online, so you won’t have to scour the internet for some.

5. Disposable gloves

While grocery shopping or handling packages, some of us might want to wear disposable gloves to avoid coming into contact with the coronavirus. Many of our readers are taking this extra precaution by purchasing some for themselves. While the Venom Steel Rip Resistant Industrial Nitrile Gloves are the best disposable gloves we’ve ever tested, you’re best getting whatever is currently available. We’ve been rounding up retailers who still have disposable gloves in stock.

In the online eCommerce site Amazon, although electronics and clothing still dominate the lists, food and gourmet has taken over during the pandemic.

  1. Grocery and gourmet food
  2. Electronics
  3. Clothing, shoes, and jewelry
  4. Home and kitchen
  5. Beauty and personal care
  6. Books
  7. Cell phones and accessories
  8. Movies and TV
  9. Pet supplies
  10. Sports and outdoors

It is very obvious that most Americans are spending less on electronics and clothing and spend more on food and health supplies. There is no public data yet available from Black Friday and Christmas sales but it is expected that both clothing and electronic sales will drop compared to previous years’ sales. 

For people who have a tight budget and want to buy clothes and electronics, going to sites like Shoppok and buying second-hand goods rather than brand new and branded goods from Amazon seems to be a reasonable idea during these tough times.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here