As the coronavirus pandemic hit, consumers rushed to stores to stock up on everyday essentials. There was a run on paper products, disinfectants, and hand sanitizers, but Walmart (WMT) shoppers soon turned their attention to other products as stay-at-home orders were put in place across the U.S.

The shift in spending may have been due to Americans receiving their stimulus checks from the government under the$2.2 trillion CARES Act, which Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, told analysts during its Q1 2020 earnings call on Tuesday, could be called “ relief spending, as it was heavily influenced by stimulus dollars, leading to sales increases in categories such as apparel, televisions, video games, sporting goods, and toys. Discretionary categories really popped towards the end of the quarter.”

McMillon said Walmart saw an increase in the sale of TV, electronics, gaming equipment, and apparel, as well as adult-sized bikes. Sewing machines and bandanas also become highly sought-after products as consumers looked to craft their own face masks.

“As the quarter progressed, we saw a second phase related to entertaining and educating at home. Puzzles and video games took off,” McMillon said. “Parents became teachers. Adult bicycles started selling out as parents started to join the kids. An overlapping trend then started emerging related to DIY and home-related activities. Think games, home office, exercise equipment, and the like.

“It was also clear a lot of people were taking a do-it-yourself approach as they bought items like bandanas and sewing machines to make masks. We could see customers looking to improve their indoor and outdoor living spaces. Our home categories in-stores and online took off,” he added.

To prevent the sale of nonessential items, states such as Vermont banned retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Costco from selling these products. Other retailers that sold nonessential items were forced to close during the pandemic, are just now starting to reopen and recoup their losses from the impact of the virus.

Shares of Walmart stock were down 0.50% as of 2:33 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

Walmart is among the US companies hiring people en masse to keep up with consumer demand during the coronavirus crisis Walmart is among the US companies hiring people en masse to keep up with consumer demand during the coronavirus crisis Photo: AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM