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The German economy has taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic. But the country's pharmacies say sales are up from last year.
The German economy has taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, but perhaps unsurprisingly its pharmacies' trade is not just unaffected by the pandemic, but seemingly boosted by it.
Figures from the German government's statistics agency, Destatis, showed that turnover in the country's roughly 21,000 pharmacy stores rose by 3% in the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period the previous year.
The report said the coronavirus pandemic had helped contribute to the increase in sales at pharmacies throughout the course of the year.
It said that in March 2020, when Germany closed many shops to stop the spread of the virus, pharmacies enjoyed their highest monthly turnover since 1994. Data also showed there had been an increase in sales of 18.5% compared with the previous March.
Pharmacies were of course among the businesses deemed "systemically relevant" which were allowed to continue operating throughout Germany's lockdown.
However, the retail of food, drinks and tobacco products posted a higher increase than pharmacies, seeing a hike of 5.1% over the first nine months of the year compared to last. Over-the-counter retailers as a whole were faring better than one might perhaps expect, with turnover only down 0.2% compared to 2019 levels.
COVID-19 has altered Germans' buying habits in other ways, Destatis noted. In the middle of March this year, there were clear cases of hoarding of certain essential items.
As the pandemic first swept through Europe, Germans bought more considerably more toilet paper, disinfecting hand gel, soap, and pasta than normal, often emptying supermarket shelves.
The latest numbers show another uptick in the sales of those products as a second wave begins, albeit on a smaller scale so far.
For the week starting October 12th, toilet paper sales were 89.9% higher than the average for the months before the pandemic, while sales of disinfecting gel rose by 72.5%. Soap was up by nearly two-thirds (62.3%), sales of flour rose by more than a quarter (28.4%) and sales of yeast by more than a third (34.8%).