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NEW YORK For this season at least, retailers and suppliers of cough-cold products should have plenty of revenue to bank come March 2010. And that’s a stark contrast to more recent seasons — seasons that saw revenues decline both in part because illness rates were down and the fact that retailers were stocking less cough-cold supplies at their warehouses as a result.
This will also likely to shape up to be the tale of two seasons — H1N1 and seasonal flu. The H1N1 season has struck sooner, driving influenza-like activity to record highs this early in the season. Meanwhile, there’s nothing to suggest that the seasonal flu won’t begin picking up in December and peak in late January/ early February as is typical.
The only wild card that may influence the number of people who actually come down with the seasonal flu later this season is the awareness around and demand for a seasonal flu vaccine this year. Couple with that increased awareness around flu prevention (coughing into sleeve, washing/sanitizing hands, etc.), and you may have a mild seasonal flu season, even as compared to the mild seasons of recent history.
Be that as it may, the arrival of H1N1 this year and the expected arrival of higher seasonal flu incidence in December ought to contribute to a situation that cough/cold purveyors haven’t seen for quite some time — heightened demand for symptom relievers that remains relatively steady throughout the entire season.