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Clorox Projects Slow Sales As Pandemic Buying Fades

The company's disinfectant products flew off the shelves last year in the wake of COVID-19

The pandemic-induced rush on cleaning products has dissipated, according to new indications from Clorox.

The company forecasts fiscal 2022 sales to fall by 2-6% with industry analysts suggesting further declines will follow.

According to CNBC, “the household business reported an 8% drop in sales, while total net sales fell to $1.80 billion from $1.98 billion, missing expectations of $1.92 billion.”

Best known for its disinfecting wipes, bleach sprays, and surface cleaners, the company raised the price of its Pledge brand products earlier this year.

In 2020, the company experienced a major financial boom due to COVID-19 panic-shopping.

Clorox “dominates the $1 billion disinfectant wipes market with a 45% market share,” said CNN Business last year. “The pandemic-fueled run on disinfectant products boosted overall company sales by 22% in the [final] quarter.”

In a call with analysts to discuss the company’s earnings last year, Clorox President and CEO-elect Linda Rendle said, “Given the fact that cold and flu sits in the middle of the year, and then we expect the pandemic to be with us for the entirety of the year, it will take the full year to get up to the supply levels that we need to be at.”

Howard Bochnek, VP of technology and scientific affairs at American Infection Control, told Supply Chain Drive that companies struggled to keep up with the massive demand. Like many industries, the cleaning product supply chain relies on a just-in-time approach, making it difficult to radically move the output meter in a short timeframe, according to Bochnek.

Revised cleaning procedures in workplaces, hospitals, and schools also upped the demand for disinfectant products. Clorox and other popular cleaning product manufacturers experienced mass shortages that lasted into 2021.

In 2020, Clorox reported $6.721 billion in sales. In addition to its cleaning products, Clorox also owns Hidden Valley and Burt’s Bees. 

A decline in sales could indicate renewed confidence in the safety of public spaces. It might also indicate an attitude change toward COVID-19 because of the availability of vaccinations. As of Tuesday, 164.9 million people in the United States have been vaccinated —roughly 49.7% of the population.

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