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.

COVID-19 Pandemic & US Dining Habits: What’s Next for the Buffet?

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters into its fifth month in the US, the disease is continuing to change society in ways few would have imagined, with perhaps some of the most substantial changes occurring in how we eat.

Dining out – one of the most cherished of US customs – has been radically affected as thousands of restaurants have closed, switched to takeout only, or have reconfigured their dining rooms.

Even as restaurants have begun to reopen, a perennial favorite – the buffet – remains closed, with the prospect of reopening as dim as ever. Even if they do reopen, buffets will see changes, such as:

  • limiting the number of people in line
  • installing more plastic shields and other protective products
  • increasing use of single-serve utensils (such as in serving dishes) to minimize risk of contamination
  • reducing the number of dining choices for consumers
  • a shift from self-serve to staff placing food selections on the plates
  • switching to conventional dining service, in which servers bringing plates of food to diners at their tables

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including new reports on Global Foodservice and Global Foodservice Single-Use Products. Additional information is also available in food reports available from The Freedonia Group’s sister publisher Packaged Facts, including Food Carryout & Delivery, Food Carryout & Delivery: Special COVID-19 Consumer Insights, and Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking & Grocery Shopping in the Age of Coronavirus. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage    

Uber Agreed to Acquire Postmates

The boom in eating in has spurred orders and sales in the nation’s nascent food delivery industry, as thousands seek to recreate the experience of eating at their favorite restaurant at home.

Thus, it is no surprise that the industry, which is still in its infancy, is seeing more consolidation as Uber Technologies announced on Monday its intention to purchase Postmates, a rival food delivery service. Uber sees the two companies as complementary in terms of both their geographic focus and their relationships with foodservice providers.

The transaction will boost the size of Uber’s Uber Eats business, which has been seeing exponential growth – in contrast to simultaneous sharp declines in the company's flagship ride-hailing unit, as stay-at-home orders and sharp reductions in travel for business and pleasure suppress the need for widespread transportation. It will also help position the company as a leading provider of “convenience services” ranging from rides, the delivery of meals and freight, and the provision of other needed services. As many US consumers continue to limit their trips out as coronavirus remains a threat to public health, more and more companies will look to bolster their presence in this segment of the economy.

According to The Freedonia Group’s National Online Consumer Survey conducted in May 2020, 30% of adults note that they are using restaurant delivery more because of the coronavirus pandemic and 51% note that they are using restaurant curb-side pick-up options more.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including new reports on Global Foodservice and Global Foodservice Single-Use Products. Additional information is also available in food reports available from The Freedonia Group’s sister publisher Packaged Facts, including Food Carryout & Delivery, Food Carryout & Delivery: Special COVID-19 Consumer Insights, and Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking & Grocery Shopping in the Age of Coronavirus. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Services    

Can Enhanced Filtration Help Us Return to Normal?

As states reopen and consumers return to frequenting malls, restaurants, and other destinations that make up a “normal” life, governments and building owners need to take extra precautions to ensure that patrons are safe while shopping or dining.

New York took a step in this direction by requiring HEPA filters be installed in indoor shopping malls where large crowds can gather. Surprisingly, this mandate does not require HEPA filters in other business and office buildings, though they are strongly encouraged.

Similarly, to put travelling fears at ease, American Airlines recently discussed how HEPA filters are used in its entire mainline fleet.

The CDC has stated that the primary transmission vector for the spread of COVID-19 is person-to-person. Social distancing is an important step in reducing the spread of COVID-19, but respiratory droplets can be transmitted through a buildings HVAC system and infect others regardless of the implementation of social distancing measures.

Installing HEPA filters, which have been shown to be capable of filtering out COVID-19 particles, can play an essential role in making enclosed spaces safer. The real effect as well as public perception of their personal safety is critical in reopening businesses, improving consumer confidence, and boosting spending.

For more information and discussion of opportunities in outdoor living trends, check out the The Freedonia Group’s publications Global Filters, Global HVAC Equipment, and HVAC Equipment. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Textiles & Nonwovens    

Oil & Gas Industry Also Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

A pair of headlines Monday showed that not even the oil and gas industry could avoid market dislocations caused by the global COVID-10 pandemic.

The first – that BP was exiting the petrochemical business – was on one hand a reflection that BP decided to sell the business and concentrate on core operations rather than make further investments to make it more competitive. However, also driving the decision is the fact that oil prices have plummeted this year as demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, and other products has collapsed as billions worldwide have heeded “shelter-in-place” orders. BP, faced with the prospect of falling revenues, opted to sell the business to pare down debt.

The second – the bankruptcy of Chesapeake Energy – showed that the once high-flying natural gas market was also buffeted by the pandemic. As with oil, natural gas prices have remained low during the pandemic as many users – manufacturers, public utilities, restaurants – have seen reductions in use as businesses closed or curtailed operations. Furthermore, banks and other lenders – pressed to lend money to thousands of businesses while also being mindful of the potential of revenue declines – were less willing to offer debt-laden Chesapeake credit, forcing the company to file for Chapter 11 protection.

Even as the US and global economy makes a partial recovery, it is expected that oil and gas prices – with demand for these products a fraction of what it once was – will remain depressed for the near future. Thus, it is expected that other industry participants may face similar pressures over the next few months.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including 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.

  Chemicals      Covid-19