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.

March Retail Sales Report: Surge in Sales by Building Materials & Garden Supply Retailers

The release of the March retail sales report by the US Department of Commerce showed that building materials and garden equipment and supplies retailers had an especially strong month, reporting sales gains of over 40% compared to February. Furthermore, March sales were more than 20% higher than those reported last year.

Sales increases by building materials and garden equipment and supplies retailers were due to a number of factors, key among them:

  • restocking by contractors and other construction professionals in preparation of the spring construction season
  • moderate weather throughout much of the US, which allowed by contractors and DIYers to get an early start on new projects
  • continuing demand for new housing, boosting sales of lumber, engineered wood, fasteners, and power tools – all of which are frequently purchased at big box retailers
  • elevated prices for lumber, construction fasteners, and plumbing pipe and fittings needed for a wide range of building projects
  • homeowners purchasing new lawn mowers and tractors and other related equipment in anticipation of a new season of yardwork

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.

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

What’s Behind the Ketchup Crisis? Carryout, Comfort Foods, & Hygiene Concerns

The Ketchup Crisis of 2021 is a thing.

But what’s behind it? Three basic trends are listed here and illustrated by data from the February–March edition of The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey:

  • Carryout. 51% of respondents say they used restaurant curbside pickup or carryout options more because of the pandemic, while 37% say they used food delivery services (e.g., restaurants’ own delivery, Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash) more because of the pandemic. This has boosted the need for to-go condiment packets. Individual cups filled by the restaurant is an option, but one that increases the likelihood of a spill and a mess before it gets to the consumer.  
  • Comfort Foods. 35% of respondents note that they are eating more “comfort” foods because of the pandemic. This trend is highest among people aged 18-39, who are less likely to be concerned about the health impacts of these foods. To many US consumers, “comfort” eating means more French fries, hamburgers, and other foods frequently dressed with ketchup.
  • Hygiene Concerns. 76% still think that the coronavirus pandemic is a health threat to them, personally, while 84% think it’s a health threat to their family and friends. Those who express highest levels of concern are most likely to stay away from community condiments (even where they are available, given local health department restrictions on their use in many areas) and prefer single-use packets as more hygienic options.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Packaging area, including Pouches, Flat Pouches: Side Seal & Pillow, US Restaurant Reopening: COVID-19 Impact on Supplies, Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, and Foodservice Single-Use Products; and Packaged Facts reports such as Food Carryout & Delivery and Food Carryout & Delivery: Special COVID-19 Consumer Insights. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Packaging    

Summer is Coming…Vacci-cation, Anyone?

Through the coronavirus pandemic, many workers with paid time off benefits chose to hoard their time off: waiting for economic or job stability…waiting for events to resume…waiting for resorts to reopen…waiting for international travel to open up or become easier…waiting for enough of a sense of safety to explore and gather.

2020 was a time of backyard staycations. Homeowners installed pools, patios, fire pits, outdoor movie screens, and outdoor kitchens. They nurtured gardens and bought comfy furniture and portable heaters. They made their yards a place to gather safely and entertain the kids as summer camps and sports leagues were restricted or closed.

Now that more people are getting vaccinated and restrictions on traveling and gathering are loosening, what kind of summer can we expect for 2021?

  • PTO will be used. People are feeling more confident and those who have PTO benefits will enjoy at least some of it this year with extended weekend holidays and longer trips.
  • We won’t fully unplug. Remote work will enable some to relocate for longer periods to combine work and play in a vacation setting.
  • Staycations will stay. Those who couldn’t get a pool or other sought-after summer item in 2020 will likely have better luck finding it this year. Additionally, while most children are still not yet able to be vaccinated, many families remain reluctant to travel or reengage in sports leagues or other camps
  • Gardens are back. Some pandemic habits will remain as spring spending at lawn and garden retailers indicate many are planning to keep their gardens going or start new ones in 2021.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Consumer Goods areas, including Outdoor Furniture & Grills; Freedonia Focus Reports such as Amusement Parks: United States and Travel Services: United States; and Packaged Facts reports such as Home Food Gardening: US Market Trends & Opportunities and Food Carryout & Delivery. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Automotive & Transport      Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Services    

Home Improvement: Not Just for the DIY Sector; Hot Ultra High-End Housing Market Caused a Boom Also

The home improvement boom relating to the pandemic hasn’t just been DIYers spending their stimulus checks and adapting their space to remote work and school or to backyard vacations. The ultra-rich bought getaway homes, investment homes, and get-out-of-the-city homes just because they could.

Not only have they been investing in remodeling homes they already have, these newly purchased homes were refreshed and adapted to the new owners’ style and preferences. The pandemic made all – including the ultra-wealthy – reconsider the spaces where they lived. A robust stock market, interest in moving to tax-friendly states, a shift away from major urban centers, and people reconsidering their lifestyle are among the factors that drove this boom.

The result: months long waits for things such as commercial-grade high-end appliances, custom-built furniture, and even designer and contractor services. Additionally, the wealthy are not immune to the ongoing lumber shortage, when construction is required.

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 and Consumer Goods areas, including Flooring, Carpets & Rugs, General Purpose Lighting Fixtures, and Outdoor Furniture & Grills, and Freedonia Focus Reports such as Real Estate: United States, Window Coverings: United States, Household Furniture: United States, Furniture: United States, and Furniture & Furnishings: United States. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Strong Sales for WD-40 Corporation Linked to Increase in Home Improvement Projects

For many homeowners, an unanticipated benefit of the COVID-19 has been the amount of time spent at home, which has – as noted on this site frequently – spurred a wave of home improvement projects as consumers looked to improve their residences, adding decks and pools, remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, and converting little-used spaces into home gyms and offices. However, smaller projects have not been neglected, either, as many can attest: the “honey-do” list never seems to shrink.

Indicative of this was the recent quarterly sales announcement by WD-40 Corporation, which reported that sales were up by a double-digit percentage compared to those of a year ago. The company, which makes a wide range of lubricants, including its eponymous WD-40 product used in a wide range of home improvement projects, noted that its sales growth was boosted by the home renovation market, as homeowners undertook a wide range of delayed improvement projects, including the oiling up of squeaky doors and wheels, hard-to-close drawers, and other such tasks. Many of these jobs might not have been completed had not homeowners with abundant spare time on their hands and decided to cross these tasks off their lists of things to do once and for all.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Lubricants and Global Lubricants. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Chemicals      Construction & Building Products      Covid-19