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Top selling recession-proof items: what to sell online now?

Identifying top selling recession-proof items can be a profitable marketplace strategy for economic downturns. Do you know what will sell well during a recession?

In this article, we will explore tips for identifying top selling recession-proof items in a constantly changing market, even during an economic downturn.

Need more guidance? Let’s dive right in.

Importance of finding recession-proof items during recurring recession forecasts

The year 2023 is an excellent moment to rethink your online product portfolio. It might be worth adjusting it to the potential of an economic downturn.

Why? Insights from experts give us some guidance into the foreseeable future, suggesting that a global economic downturn is on the horizon.

Various factors could contribute to this scenario. Increasing inflation, surging interest rates, and disruptions stemming from escalating geopolitical tensions as potential causes are among those most frequently mentioned. As Insider quotes, the legendary investor Jeremy Grantham has recently commented on recession pointing to climate change, widespread inequality, and population declines as primary worldwide concerns.

While economic downturns can be challenging for many ecommerce businesses, the trick to surviving them is to get ahead of the lousy curve and treat them as an opportunity for growth.

Even in the face of economic difficulties when consumer spending and business confidence are impacted.

This is precisely why we need to treat global economic forecasts as a compass offering valuable guidance, and juxtapose them with lessons learned from the past.

Understanding online shopping habits

Current online shopping habits have been heavily influenced and shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020 lockdowns have forced shoppers to move online. It has led to a whopping 45% increase in ecommerce sales.

The shift towards online shopping lasted even when most social distancing restrictions were lifted.

Pandemic shoppers have experienced the luxury of buying anything from the comfort of their own couches 24/7. Buying things over the Internet has become ingrained in people’s routines. It has forever changed their shopping habits.

When it comes to consumer behavior, a recession is similar to the pandemic. People experience the same notion of uncertainty, become more cautious about their spending, and adjust budgets to save money.

Thankfully, the post-pandemic demand for online shopping is paramount. People turned to ecommerce platforms as a safer and more convenient way to purchase goods. One of the factors contributing to that growth is the online marketplace expansion.

global retail ecommerce sales reach research statista study

Why do international marketplaces offer so much during recession?

One of the most significant benefits of selling on online marketplaces during an economic downturn is the lower barrier to entry. Online marketplaces provide a ready-made platform for businesses to start selling immediately, with minimal setup costs.

International marketplaces offer sellers the opportunity to expand their reach and increase sales by leveraging the existing customer base of established platforms.

At the same time, consumers worldwide are searching for products that aren’t accessible in their domestic market or are available at a more affordable price, regardless of their origin. Especially during an economic downturn, when the price really matters to them.

[Explore top marketplace expansion strategies: FREE Download]

marketplace strategies maximize ecommerce growth

Researching and identifying top selling recession-proof items

What are the crucial steps to finding and selecting products that will be resilient in times of economic downturn? It’s worth taking a moment to research the topic to ensure building a successful and resilient online selling strategy. Ultimately, the businesses that thrive in recession are the ones that do their homework and are aware of the product categories and types to invest in.

Definition and characteristics of best selling recession-proof products

Recession-proof products are goods that continue to experience demand even during periods of economic downturn.

These products possess specific characteristics that make them resilient to the effects of a recession, allowing them to maintain a stable or even increased level of consumer interest.

Some key characteristics of recession-resistant products?

  • They are essential in nature
  • They fulfill basic needs
  • They are considered necessities rather than luxuries

Regardless of the economic climate, people will always require certain items for their day-to-day lives, making them less susceptible to fluctuations in consumer spending patterns during a recession.

Ecommerce stat
Statista survey found that in 2022, the three areas most commonly cut back on in times of high inflation were contracts and subscriptions (66 percent), purchasing clothes (42 percent) and visiting bars, cafes and restaurants (39 percent).


By understanding consumer needs and market trends, we can determine a product’s potential profitability during a recession.

Top selling recession-proof products & categories on 2023 marketplaces

When it comes to selling on marketplaces, relying on top-selling items may not be the best strategy in the face of a recession. While these items might have been popular pre-recession, desperate times might cause their sales to drop dramatically. However, during times of economic uncertainty, some particular items tend to sell even better than they did in good times.

What products are recession proof?

A better understanding of what products to sell during a recession will help you increase your online sales.

These are the top 5 categories that we think have the biggest potential to bring in sales during a downturn – however, not all items within a category will be recession-proof:

Products from the food and groceries category

  • Grocery essentials
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Staple products

Products from the home and personal essentials category

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Hygiene products
  • Healthcare items

Products from the beauty products category

  • Basic skincare items
  • Nail care products
  • Hair coloring products
  • Bath products

Products from the childcare category

  • Hygiene products
  • Food and breastfeeding accessories
  • Safety and health products

Products from the pet supplies category

  • Pet food
  • Kitty litter

There are many recession-resistant product categories and subcategories, but the key is to identify the recession-proof products within them. And this is where you need to pay attention.

A good example would be products from the pet supplies category. While high-end pet accessories or specialty pet foods may experience a decline in sales during a recession, basic pet food options such as dry kibble or canned food tend to remain stable. There’s more to it. When the budget is tight, pet owners will lean towards buying dry food in bulk and XL packaging, as its price per kilogram is much lower.

Several sources and tools can be used to conduct this kind of market research. If you want to read more insights explained by examples of recession-proof items, download our free ebook, Recession-Proof Ecommerce Playbook. It will allow you to better understand consumer decisions and use this knowledge to identify more staple products.

[Explore top marketplace items & strategies during recession: FREE Download]

top selling recession proof items ebook

Top selling recession-proof items to sell: conclusion

In conclusion, selling on online marketplaces can be a lucrative option during economic downturns. By identifying the top selling recession-proof items to sell and adding them to your listings, you can maximize your chances of success.

The recession-proof categories and items discussed in our ebook are a good starting point for reevaluating your product portfolio. All the same, you’ll probably want to dig further into refining your overall marketplace strategy with such recession-resistant items. Only then you will know what to sell during a recession, and how to sell it.

With careful research, you can find items that will be in high demand regardless of the economic climate.

By adding recession-proof items to your product portfolio, you can ensure that your business stays afloat even during challenging times.

While there is no magic formula for success, investing time and effort into finding the right items to sell can pay off in the long run.

About Webinterpret

Webinterpret supports merchants selling on big, international ecommerce platforms, such as eBay and Amazon as well as local marketplaces like Allegro or Cdiscount. Our AI-based solution enables selling more effectively with automated listing localization, advertising, and logistics (shipping and returns).

By giving your international customers a full end-to-end local shopping experience, Webinterpret improves your conversion and helps establish your business on a global scale.

Our marketplace offer is constantly expanding – if you want to grow your online sales, feel free to contact our sales experts. They will help you analyze your international sales potential and choose markets that will offer you the best possible return on investment.

Recession-proof ebook in ecommerce

Set your online business for recession-proof success!


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