As the equities market experiences larger swings and jostles about, investors can turn to consumer stock exchange traded funds, capitalizing on the sector’s staying power in any economic environment.

Over the past month, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP) has gained 0.3% and the Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (NYSEArca: VDC) increased 0.2%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index declined 1.4%.

This consumer sector is widely viewed as a defensive play due to its relative low volatility.

“During the past 10 years, this ETF has been meaningfully less volatile than the broader market. It also has displayed less volatility than competing consumer staples ETFs,” Morningstar analyst Robert Goldsborough said in a research note on XLP.

Consumer staple products are considered inelastic where price increases will have a minimal impact on the demand for the product, and individuals are unlikely to cut back on these goods regardless of the economic environment, writes Casey Murphy for Investopedia.

“In general, consumers buy consumer staples products and services regardless of the economic climate. As a result, the holdings in [consumer staples ETFs]generally have stable revenue growth and cash flows,” Goldsborough added.

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