Culture

Meat freezers have become a coronavirus prepper must-have on Amazon

New data shows a spike in the appliance's price alongside COVID-19's rise in the U.S.

Freezer filled with meat packages for the winter.
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There are certain things for which it’s intuitive that people would scramble to purchase in the event of a pandemic: soaps, sanitizers, medicine (and toilet paper, of course). But if the past few months have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. According to a new analysis from Thinknum, shoppers this spring have been flocking to Amazon to purchase… freezers. Yes. Personal freezers to stick in the garage or basement to really cement that creepy cellar vibe.

While it’s commonplace to stock up on non-perishable items in times of crisis, which ensures a reliable food supply for the undetermined period of time you might remain stuck in your home, it seems people are also hoarding the extremely-perishables. That's pretty apparent from the graph below, which shows freezer prices and prevalence on Amazon going back three years.

The numbers are striking — This time last year, hairdryers topped the appliances charts on Amazon. Now, the top two slots are held by the $200 Midea WHS-129C1 Single Door Chest Freezer and the larger, $600 Midea MRC070S0AWW Chest Freezer, according to Thinknum.

Per Thinknum:

The first rush to buy freezers began in the second half of March 2020, when the average freezer prices shot from $176 to $312. This came just as the number of freezers in Amazon's Appliances top-100 seller list swelled from 13 SKUs to 38 out of the 100 best-selling appliances. This is highly unusual in terms of Amazon shopping behavior. A look at the history of freezer sales and commonality at Amazon reveals just how much of a crush they're seeing in both popularity and price. Previous to the Coronavirus pandemic, freezers saw some popularity during winter months, presumably as people hunkered down for cold spells.

I guess it makes sense? — The current international disaster has us prepping in different ways than we do for more common emergency scenarios, like hurricanes, snowstorms, and other forces of nature. The meat industry is now standing on shaky ground and concerns about shortages have been popping up for weeks. And with uncertainty comes hoarding.

Since there’s no telling when we’ll be able to get back to life as usual, and this time the cause of us hunkering down doesn’t come with the inherent risk of power outages, frozen foods seem a reasonable choice. Most meats are good for a few months up to a year in the freezer anyway, and non-meat freezables follow a similar timeline. Just make sure you don't forget about it.