US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

States Are Loosening Business Restrictions, but That Doesn’t Mean Consumers Are Ready to Come Back

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it dine on-site or go bowling or see a movie or travel on an airplane or get a haircut…isn’t that how the saying goes?

Despite more and more states announcing plans to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, it is reasonable to expect that consumers will be slow to return to normal, pre-crisis spending patterns due to:

  • the overwhelming share of the population that reports they approve of the physical distancing orders and shelter-in-place policies
  • continuing consumer concerns about their personal health or the health risks to family members due to the coronavirus
  • recessionary conditions leading consumers – even those who are still employed and seeing minimal financial impact due to the crisis – to curtail discretionary spending, regardless of their desire or need to purchase items or make household investments
  • consumers still working from home not yet needing to get lunch away from home, buy work clothes, or get items dry cleaned

On the positive side, a number of key factor will likely boost consumer interest in getting out of the house and participating in activities that reopen, including:

  • Bored, stir-crazy consumers will be looking for an excuse to leave their homes.
  • Creature comforts such as haircuts, massages, and manicures may help some consumers handle
  • Websites have allowed consumers to browse, if not shop, during the stay-at-home period, leading to wish lists and shopping carts urging consumers back into stores to make final purchases.

Marketing, operational processes, and product or service offerings that appeal to the positive factors and minimize concerns about the negative factors will help service and retail businesses slowly open to the best possible outcomes until consumers feel confident enough to return in full force.

For more information, see consumer analysis from The Freedonia Group and our sister publisher Packaged Facts. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Airbnb Has Established Cleaning & Disinfection Protocols for Hosts

Airbnb released information about an enhanced cleaning process to protect guests and hosts from the spread of disease and to give travelers confidence to resume travel plans.

Recommended steps include ventilating rooms, cleaning then disinfecting, using disposable gloves, using disposable cleaning supplies (e.g., wipes, paper towels), washing hands frequently, and taking care of frequently touched surfaces as well as textiles and linens.

The company also noted that the Center for Disease Control recommends leaving a space unoccupied for 24 hours before bringing in the next set of guests. For those unable to commit to the cleaning protocol, hosts can sign up for the Booking Buffer feature that automatically leaves homes vacant and unable to be occupied for a set time frame, currently 72 hours, between guests.

The hospitality industry – which sees high levels of unique traffic, including customers from other parts of the world – is a particularly key market for cleaning and disinfection industries. Good cleaning protocols in these locations are essential for controlling a second spike in infections as well as giving customers confidence to return to dining and travel activities.

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s research on industrial & institutional cleaning chemicals, wipes, and global disposable medical gloves industries as well as the travel services industry. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Chemicals      Covid-19    

Reductions in Lumber Mill Capacity Reflect Shifting Housing Market

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market was expected to have another year of growth. A shortage of housing units (especially affordable ones catering to first-time home buyers), generally favorable economic conditions, and increasing numbers of younger consumers looking to move out of apartments and into their own homes made the nation’s homebuilders look favorably to 2020 as a year of sales and profit.

Enter coronavirus, and with it mass unemployment, social distancing, and, in some cases, construction shutdowns. A year that started out with so much promise has quickly turned into a time of retrenchment as building and construction firms across the US – despite their essential nature – have slowed or, in some cases, stopped work on existing projects altogether.

Bowing to this new market reality, many of North America’s leading engineered lumber producers have announced plans to cut back on production for the near term, reducing and in some cases ceasing outputs. While this is not expected to have an effect on supply in the short term due to the general slowdown in construction projects, it may have an effect later in the year. Shortages of such key construction materials as lumber, plywood, OSB, and particleboard will make it more difficult not only for homebuilders but for suppliers of such products as cabinets, millwork, decking, hardwood flooring, and furniture to quickly boost output to meet rising demand.

For more information about the US home building and construction industries, see The Freedonia Group’s coverage of the Building and Construction Industry. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

Lysol Discussion Highlights the Need for Product Usage Information & Warnings on Packaging

Many have been giggling about the thought that anyone would ingest disinfectant cleaning products. However, a note from Reckitt Benckiser Group – the manufacturer of Lysol – is a reminder of the need for proper labeling and carefully worded product usage information.

In the US, consumer cleaning products are required to meet labeling requirements as established through the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) regulations and administered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The FHSA requires that the point-of-purchase label informs consumers about the potential hazards of exposure, which product ingredients contribute to those hazards, how to appropriately handle and store the product to guard against risk, and what type of first aid would need to be administered in case of ingestion or other improper usage.

In the case of Lysol and other disinfecting cleaning products, such warnings are necessary in that the products are toxic if ingested and ingestion is a reasonably foreseeable accident that could hurt the purchaser, user, or others, including young children.

In some cases, the required notices are extensive. The need for so many warnings and detailed product information can effect packaging design. Labels must be large enough for the warnings to be legible, even when the manufacturer may prefer to emphasize other elements of the product (e.g., efficacy against contaminants, ease of use, scent).

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s research on US Industrial & Institutional Cleaning Chemicals and Global Industrial & Institutional Cleaning Chemicals, as well as US Labels, Global Labels, and other elements of the packaging industry.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Renewed Interest in Hygiene to Boost Demand for Touchless Plumbing Products

Studies indicate that one of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increase in one of the most simplest – yet effective – ways of combatting the virus: washing hands. Nearly 80% of US consumers report changing the way they wash their hands. Building owners and facilities managers will want to do what they can to make sure that this number can increase. Additionally, they will want to reassure workers and visitors in light of heightened hygiene concerns, as businesses, restaurants, and other facilities consider how to safely reopen as the crisis begins to ebb.

One way in which this can be done is to install touchless plumbing products. These items, so named because they can be operated by sensors, can be activated by a user simply by moving a hand or foot near the sensor – avoiding any contact with the plumbing fixture or fitting. This is an important consideration for many people concerned about germs or coming in contact with a surface that may be contaminated with coronavirus. Furthermore, use of these plumbing products can reduce water usage and impart a more modern look to any bathroom facility – important considerations for any building owner or manager.

Types of touchless products than can be installed in bathrooms include:

  • lavatory and kitchen sink faucets
  • toilet fixtures
  • urinals and bidets
  • showerheads and related components
  • soap and hand sanitizer dispensers
  • paper towel dispenser

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s recent publications, including the full industry study covering Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings (which includes coronavirus market impact analysis) and the special slide deck COVID-19 Impact Report: Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings (which covers the current crisis and places it in the historical context of other recent economic crisis).