Economy

Homebound Canadians are on the hunt for stuff to keep them from getting bored and out of shape

Kijiji data shows a surge in demand for video game consoles and fitness equipment from Canadians stuck at home

We all know that toilet paper has improbably emerged as the most sought-after consumer item amid the COVID-19 shutdown, but as Canadians hunker down they’re also scouring the web for things to keep them entertained — and in shape.

Maclean’s asked Kijiji to share data on trends emerging from people using its site, an online classified service. According to the company Canadians have ramped up their interest in home entertainment and fitness items over the past week.

Here are the consumer electronics items that have seen the biggest increase since March 18 compared to the the average of the three-week period from Feb 16 to March 7.

  • Computers: five per cent
  • TVs and video: 12 per cent
  • Computer accessories: 38 per cent
  • Video games and consoles: 79 per cent

Meanwhile, clearly aware that sitting around staring at screens all day isn’t good for anyone’s health, Canadians are scrambling to buy used fitness gear — over the same period demand for exercise equipment soared 221 per cent.

READ: A heat map of coronavirus cases in Canada

As the company said in a statement, the shift in demand suggests “Canadians are preparing to make the most of their social distancing.”

This isn’t the first sign that shoppers are looking for an escape from the isolation by turning to video games. Some retailers around the world have see consumers panic buying gaming consoles to avoid the “boredom crisis.” Likewise video game retailer EB Games defied calls for most non-essential stores to close by claiming for days that it was “essential retail,” though over the weekend the company closed down its locations.

While Kijiji has seen demand spike for certain items as we adjust to social distancing, the company is also asking Canadians to reconsider whether they really need that Playstation console and elliptical right this very moment, since in order to pick up their items buyers will typically have to meet the seller in person at a time when everyone should be staying at home.

Oh, and don’t bother searching Kijiji for toilet paper. In order to “curb pricing practices that run counter to the community-minded spirit” of the site, the company has temporarily banned listings for “health and surgical masks, hand sanitizer/gel, disinfecting wipes and toilet paper” while removing any listing that mentions “COVID-19, coronavirus, 2019nCoV (except books)” in the title or description.

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