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Phil & Mel In The Morning

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Have you noticed an outbreak of bad breath lately? There’s a reason for that. Sales of gum and mints have plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Where do people usually pick up packs of chewing gum and rolls of breath mints? The checkout line. Those items fall into the retail category known as impulse purchases. You know, those little things you grab just before paying for all of the other stuff in your cart. With more people opting for grocery delivery and curbside pickup since March, those impulse purchases haven’t been happening.

According to a story in the New York Post, U.S. sales of mints are down 30% year-over-year in the 11 weeks ending on May 16th at stores tracked by market researcher Nielsen. Gum sales are down 28%.

In April, Mondelez International forecast “material declines” for second quarter in its gum business, which includes Trident and Stride, describing that category as “the most impulse in nature.” Gum is mostly consumed when people go out and is often bought in convenience stores, many of which closed during the initial shutdowns.

In a recent statement, Hershey, maker of Ice Breakers mints, said, “Sales in our gum and mint category have also been significantly impacted by social distancing protocols.” In other words, the farther away we stand from each other, the less we’re worrying about our breath.

However, the news isn’t all stinky. Consumers are not totally abandoning oral hygiene care while social distancing. According to Nielsen, toothpaste and mouth wash sales are up 12% and 13%, respectively, for that same 11-week period.