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Coronavirus stokes consumer demand for disposable pee bags

The need to pee is often inconvenient, but it can be particularly problematic as consumers venture out during a lethal pandemic. The concern is visible in a recent pickup in consumer demand for disposable urinal bags — products that use chemicals to turn liquid into an odorless solid that can be stashed and later thrown away. 

Marketed as a solution for travelers planning road or camping trips, brands including Travel John and Pee Buddy are increasingly popular at a time when public bathrooms are less appealing even if available. And while many restaurants and bars are offering food and drinks to go, their inside dining and bathroom facilities in many places remain closed. 

Growing demand for the products also comes as much of the country starts reopening from a shutdown intended to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. 

India's Sirona Hygiene, the maker of Pee Buddy — touted as giving females the ability to "stand and pee" — is struggling to keep up with the pickup in sales, according to the New Delhi-based company. 

"While there is higher demand, one is unable to fully cater to it," Sirona founder Deep Bajaj said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "We believe this is a temporary phenomenon" and things will go back to normal in two to three months, Bajaj added.

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Disposable urinal bags. Traveljohn.com

E-commerce analytics firm Profitero found that online searches for "Travel John disposable urinal bags" increased fivefold between May 2 and June 6, according to trade publication AdAge. Irvine, California-based Reach Global Industries, maker of Travel John, told the publication it had seen a "drastic increase" in sales. 

Beyond Amazon, retailers that carry the product include Walgreens and Bed Bath & Beyond. The coronavirus has changed consumer buying habits in multiple ways, with stores initially finding it hard to keep items including toilet paper and hand sanitizer in stock.

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