The Cicadas Are Coming! What Will It Mean for This Outdoor Living Season?

The Cicadas Are Coming! What Will It Mean for This Outdoor Living Season?

After 17 years, the largest generation of periodical cicadas – Brood X – is finally beginning to emerge from the ground just in time for the outdoor living season begin. Fortunately, these cicadas are totally harmless, but they can be a nuisance. In addition to the cicadas’ loud mating-call buzz – like a train or an airplane when in large enough groups – after the insects’ reproductive ritual, homeowners from Delaware to Ohio to Virginia will have to contend with the crunchy aftermath of their carcasses.

Though the very presence of cicadas might keep some people indoors this summer, many homeowners are taking measures to get their yards cicada-ready. For example:

  • Using an umbrella or other cover to shelter outdoor furniture while lounging outside can help prevent getting caught in “cicada rain” – i.e., the insect’s excretions from consuming xylem, or tree fluid.
  • Covering pools and spas can reduce cleanup and also protect the cicadas from getting caught in the water and drowning before fulfilling their life’s purpose.
  • Because female cicadas keep their eggs in slits they make in trees, pruning or putting netting around small trees and shrubs can divert the cicadas to use bigger trees for this purpose that are better able to carry the additional weight.

As such, Brood X is likely to have some effect on outdoor living space usage this summer – particularly in the garden and in the pool – but the impact on the US outdoor living market is expected to be small.

A new Freedonia Group analysis forecasts demand for outdoor living products in the US to increase 1.8% from a high 2020 base to $33.4 billion in 2021. Below, we highlight some of the key trends that will drive continued market growth post pandemic, cicadas notwithstanding.

Strong Opportunities Remain Even After Pandemic-Driven Boom of 2020

Outdoor living product sales surged in 2020 as a result of consumers spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantine drove a number of trends behind the spike, including:

  • surging gardening activity – particularly food gardens – as people took up new hobbies and looked for ways to entertain and educate their children
  • increased use of outdoor spaces for socially distanced entertaining and family activities
  • elevated spending on staycation-oriented home renovation projects such as pools, patios, and other outdoor living area installations and expansions
  • rising interest in DIY lawn and garden maintenance

Although 2020 had many households making large-scale, one-time investments in their outdoor spaces – a key driver of outdoor living sales in any year – there is still room for market expansion. The best opportunities will continue to be for products that make outdoor spaces more comfortable, functional, and aesthetically appealing as well as products to maintain these spaces. Even as the effects of the pandemic recede – with more people returning to offices and in-person schooling, and resuming activities not based at home – these trends will remain key to growth.

Spike in New Home Gardeners Boosts Demand for Organic Consumables, Pots, & Planters

The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey conducted in November-December 2020 found that 26% of US consumers planted a food garden due to the pandemic. Although 2020 set a high base for demand for gardening supplies, further spending in 2021 will be fed by retailers restocking, continued interest in gardening, and rising prices, though home gardening rates are expected to fall as the pandemic recedes and new hobbyists lose interest, or time. Additionally, cicadas could disrupt gardening activity in parts of the country.

Nevertheless, key opportunities exist in pots and planters, as they are amenable to use even where there is limited yard space, and organic consumables, as hobby gardeners tend to be concerned about their environmental impact and are willing to pay a premium to mitigate it.

Increasing DIY Lawn & Garden Maintenance, Consumers Invest in New Power Equipment

In a temporary reversal of recent trends, homeowners decreased their use of routine landscaping services during the pandemic for budget reasons or because they wanted to perform the tasks themselves. This boosted sales of power lawn and garden equipment to some degree. The use of professional services for routine maintenance is expected to improve in 2021 as the pandemic recedes, but DIY trends and interest in feature-rich or electric products will continue to bolster consumer investment in equipment.

Consumers Upgrade Outdoor Spaces to Accommodate Socially Distanced Entertaining

As consumers have increased the range of uses for their outdoor spaces as well as the time they spend in them, they have invested in upgrading these spaces to be more comfortable, functional, and inviting to guests. Among the products used to achieve these goals are outdoor lighting, furniture, and heating elements – which make outdoor spaces cozier – and structures like gazebos and pergolas, which can provide shelter and shade. Additionally, decking and pavers can be used expand the amount of functional outdoor space.

Want to Learn More?

Outdoor Living 2021 is now available from the Freedonia Group.

About the Author:

Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.

  Consumer Goods      Industry Studies