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From Gum To Makeup, Shopping Items Making A Post COVID-19 Comeback

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Rewind over a year: Remember when you couldn't find cleaning wipes or masks for sale?

Now the world is opening again, and our shopping habits are shifting. Morning Insider Lauren Victory shows us what's hot - and what's not - especially as people begin returning to the office.

"Toilet paper is now back to normal," said Krishnakumar Davey, laughing. The president of strategic analytics for Chicago-based IRI studies what is in our shopping carts every week.

Turns out some popular pandemic purchases were just fads – like our obsession with baking.

"In the last three four weeks, after the mask mandate came down and the country is, you know, at least half  vaccinated, you're seeing the demand coming down," said Davey, who notes in an IRI report out this week that frozen vegetables, pasta, household cleaners, vitamins and soap have been showing up less in our baskets recently.

What consumers are buying now matches up with people leaving their quarantine caves: deodorant, makeup and gum are making a major comeback after a pandemic dip in sales.

Any trends that surprise Davey? Sports drinks, he said. Their consumption continues to be elevated. He thinks the reason could be electrolytes because other "immunity boosting" products are doing well.

CBS 2 wondered whether canned coffee will take a hit as people return to work in person. The IRI CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Demand Index shows coffee and tea store purchases were above normal for several months. Since April, they've stabilized. Perhaps office coffee runs (that could start next week as people start to resume commutes) will cause grocery-bought caffeinated products to dip for a while.

Meantime, Davey says people currently tend to shop more in the afternoon and evening, not in the morning. That could change with lunch breaks from the office, meaning a run to the hot bar/salad bar. Deli sandwich meat could see an uptick because of packed lunches which could see even more of a shift if kids return to school fulltime in the Fall.

One pandemic habit that's not budging: our love of alcohol. Booze purchases are still above pre-COVID times, Davey said.

He added that curbside pickup and grocery delivery from online orders look like they're here to stay, too.

Current in-home consumption of groceries overall is still five times above normal.

So, 2020 was the year of out-of-stock items and panic buying. This year is returning us to reality with a new twist: price increases. Davey blames rising commodity costs and a shortage of raw materials for your higher-than-normal grocery bill.

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