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.

Appliance Repair or Replacement? The Answer Is Even Less Clear in a Post-COVID World.

Consumers are spending more time at home, which has both increased wear on household appliances and caused a desire among homeowners to remodel, or at least to replace older appliances. Combined, repair and replacement has sustained household appliance demand, particularly for freezers which saw a substantial spike in demand as consumer purchases of frozen foods surged at the beginning of the pandemic. However, retailers across the country, from Arkansas to Florida to Michigan to Pennsylvania, are experiencing supply shortages of household appliances.

Temporary manufacturing plant closures during the early part of the pandemic and lingering supply issues ­– since many parts used in appliance assembly are sourced overseas – have wreaked havoc on the ability of producers to meet increased appliance demand. These shortages are causing what was previously a 1- to 2-day turnaround between purchase and delivery to stretch into an 8- to 12-week waiting period.

Given the supply shortage, what options are available to consumers who have a broken appliance or want to replace an older unit?

  1. Repair, which is usually less expensive than replacement, though appliance repair companies are facing the same supply issues as appliance manufacturers. Repairs are also usually a two-trip endeavor: one to diagnose the problem and the other to repair the appliance (if the part is available), so consumers have to decide if they are comfortable doubling their potential exposure to COVID-19.
  2. Small, local, and independent appliance stores may have more stock available than big-box or home improvement stores, as they can be overlooked by consumers. Some of these stores even stock and sell used appliances.
  3. Upgrading to a more expensive unit, as these products are more likely to be in stock. Going above budget is typically not a wise financial decision, but spending an extra $500 on an appliance to avoid the two-month wait for delivery can be justifiable to someone whose refrigerator just broke down and can’t be repaired.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including the Global Major Household Appliances report. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Moving Beyond Pools & Landscaping: What Will Be the Big Coronavirus-Driven Trends for Fall?

Now that we’re in mid- July, most consumers who wanted a pool found one. Quarantine gardens are growing, and in some cases starting to provide a harvest.

So, Freedonia analysis started talking about fall. What do we foresee as the next big coronavirus-driven trends as the weather cools and kids return to school (or not)? Here’s our working list so far:

  • space and outdoor heaters, for more comfortable socializing on patios, decks, and elsewhere outdoors as the temperatures drop
  • garage conversion kits, to organize the piles of stuff and turn those space into workout/hobby/office area or extra room for semi-outdoor, physically distant socializing
  • canning supplies and freezers, since people will want to store all that summer garden bounty
  • indoor gardening and smaller hydroponics kits, as some consumers will carry that gardening urge indoors
  • enhanced IT infrastructure, as families will likely need more devices (additional laptops and tablets) and more bandwidth to handle regular remote learning, sometimes for more than one child while one or both parents are also still working remotely
  • indoor air cleaners with HEPA filters and UV lights, which are being targeted to improve air quality and possibly slow the spread of the coronavirus
  • air duct cleaning, as homeowners will be looking to get rid of dust and potential build-up of other breathing hazards as the windows start to stay closed
  • professional deep cleaning of surfaces (walls, ceilings, floors); a lot of homeowners undertook renovation projects, so now it’s time to clean up
  • golf equipment, as many schools have identified as one they will consider still offering since it is by nature a no-contact, physically distant outdoor activity
  • winter outdoor sports equipment, since skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing are all options for no-contact physically distant outdoor activities in the winter
  • video game systems: a reward for bored kids? A way for parents to get some peace and quiet? Connected systems to allow kids another way to play with their friends, but not in person? Sure. It doesn’t hurt that the next generation of PlayStation and XBOX consoles will be available in November, also.
  • sheds, tiny houses, and granny pods: whatever you want to call them, these supplemental structures provide an option for additional office space, classrooms, and play space, as well as room for guest stays and clean socializing (keeping people out of the main home)

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Services    

Trio of Articles Shows Construction Industry Holding Up Despite Ongoing COVID-19 Threat

As the US continues to look for ways to deal with the continuing coronavirus pandemic, potential bright spots – at least on the economic side – exist in the construction market. While builders and construction firms have had to deal numerous changes in business practice and daily operations, in most parts of the US the construction industry has escaped the disruptions on the scale of – for instance – the restaurant industry. This, in turn, has positioned construction for growth in the near term from its recent low point in April.

A trio of articles highlighted the optimism of construction industry participants:

  • One article noted that housing starts rose sharply in June, as builders – noting a shift toward suburban living – ramped up construction of new homes, particularly single-family dwellings.
  • In a related vein, a second article reported that home builder confidence climbed again in June, indicating that housing starts would continue to rise as consumers continued to demand new housing.
  • Another release noted that commercial building and nonbuilding construction starts posted gains for the second straight month, buoyed by solid growth in renewable energy construction projects.

It is anticipated that construction activity will continue to rise going forward, especially in the housing market. Spurred by low mortgage rates, many consumers – especially those looking to depart from urban centers with higher rates of COVID-19 infection – are looking to buy homes. And, with a shortage of affordable housing, builders can know that any residences they do put up can be quickly sold – easing industry fears of a buildup of inventory.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Masks Required: More National Chains Are Making That Move

On Wednesday, the National Retail Federation issued a release calling on retailers to set a nationwide policy requiring customers wear masks or other face coverings.

As of July 16, the major retailers or retail ownership groups that have announced or already implemented policy mandating masks to shop inside their stores include Apple, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, CVS, Kohl’s, Kroger, Target, and Walmart.

Many local retail outlets of these chains had already required face coverings, but the policy is to provide more consistency across the country and better function to slow the spread of the coronavirus given the more recent increases in cases.

Many of the retailers offer or plan to offer disposable masks to customers who do not have one already. Many have stated that they will have exceptions for young children and those who have underlying medical conditions barring them from wearing masks. These outlets also have e-commerce platforms and curbside delivery programs to accommodate customers who either do not want to wear a mask or who still feel uncomfortable entering stores even with a mask mandate.

We expect that this movement among national chains will propel usage of masks more broadly. It will also propel expansion of initiatives offering alternatives to in-person shopping, given both reluctance among some consumers to wear a masks and concern among other customers about noncompliance by others.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Global Disposable Masks & Respirators, Global Disposable Medical Gloves, Global Medical Face Shields, and Global Disposable Medical Supplies. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Healthcare & Life Sciences      Packaging    

Backyard Recreation: If You Can’t Go To an Amusement Park or a Resort, Build One

Backyard renovations are hot now… from DIY projects to major investments that require a contractor.

What’s behind it?

  • Staycations – if you can’t go on vacation because the destinations are closed or too risky, invest in a vacation space at home
  • Quarantine Stir Crazy – after months of feeling cooped up, people want to be outside where there is more space or at least a space that is not the same shared multipurpose family room. As they find they are using their yards more than ever, they are investing more in them
  • The Kids Are Bored – parents want to be able to provide something active and fun for kids who can’t see friends, go to camp, or play in sports leagues
  • Relaxation – consumers find being outdoors soothing in a stressful time; many engage in gardening to unwind
  • Safer Socializing – public health experts note that it’s safer to socialize outdoors than indoors, leading homeowners to create an improved space for hosting close family and friends
  • Lots of Free Time – if you aren’t going anywhere, you have time to spend on long-planned projects or tend plants that would otherwise require more time than busy families might otherwise have available
  • The New Family Dog – many families have adopted dogs in the last few months and have realized they need an outdoor space that accommodates their new member of the household

What are homeowners buying?

  • Grills and other cooking appliances
  • Outdoor seating in chat sets around a fire pit
  • Decorative plants and food plants
  • Hardscaping for patios, garden edging, and homemade fire pits
  • Decking and fencing
  • Water features including fountains, waterfalls, and ponds
  • Lighting
  • Generators
  • Pools and sprinklers
  • Sandboxes
  • Trampolines
  • Movie theater equipment

This renovation trend will likely shift to garages and other semi-enclosed spaces as the weather cools.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Landscaping Products, COVID-19 Economic Impact Report: Landscaping Products, General Purpose Lighting Fixtures, Global Pools & Spas, Live Goods: Plants, Trees, & Shrubbery, Lawn & Garden Consumables, Sheds & Outdoor Storage, Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Furniture & Grills.  Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19