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.

School Meals To-Go

With more school districts opting to begin the year using online other remote education practices, food pantries and other hunger support agencies are looking at ways to be sure that families eligible for meals will get them. For instance, Chicago Public Schools will continue to offer grab-and-go meals to students. Other major urban districts are making the same steps as are a growing number of suburban and rural districts.

There are efforts in progress (including the proposed Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act) to expand eligibility so that organizations could spend more time providing the food resources without spending additional time verifying student elibility.

This will be another opportunity for packaging companies. While in-school meals are often served in disposable dinnerware with plastic flatware, a growing number of schools had been opting for reusable options that reduce the amount of paper and plastic waste generated. The pandemic put a pause in that effort as school meals must now more closely resemble restaurant carryout. Key products will include clamshell containers, paper wraps, disposable flatware, and bags. Some districts may look to increase confidence in the hygiene of the meals by using tamper-evident food packaging options as well.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in Packaging and in our sister publisher Packaged Facts’ Food & Beverage research catalog. 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.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Services    

Uber CEO: Delivery Has Moved From Luxury To Utility

On August 6, Uber Technologies announced its quarterly earnings results. UberEats remains the bright spot for the company, seeing revenue doubled to $1.2 billion as Americans continue to stay at home despite changes in restaurant and other business operation across various states since April. This is in contrast to the ongoing sharp declines in the company's flagship ride-hailing unit, as fewer riders and drivers in the US returned to the platform despite improvements in other countries where COVID-19 outbreaks are currently more muted.

One thing moving the business ahead was noted by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who said, “The COVID crisis has moved delivery from a luxury to a utility.”

As more people try delivery options, they integrate it into their daily life and choose to retain this convenience even after the time of necessity has past. For instance, before the pandemic, consumers were already getting used to having household goods and other items delivered to their doorstop by Amazon and Walmart. Now, large numbers have become accustomed to having groceries and prepared restaurant meals brought to their home as well.

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 curbside pick-up options more.

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

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Services    

Pandemic-Related Home Schooling – Alone or in Pods – Is Driving Interest in Alternative Education Spaces

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. As more families are facing the real or presumed likelihood of their children starting the school year outside of a traditional school building, they are looking for new places to do their lessons alone and with a small group of other children.  

Families with free space within their homes are creating dedicated schooling areas in basements and garages. This sort of a project could be anywhere from a minor project of moving around existing furniture to a mid-level improvement with new furniture to a major renovation with drywall, new electrical work, extended heating/cooling, more hospitable flooring, and new lighting.

However, families that are hosting or supporting learning groups with children from multiple families are looking for work spaces outside their personal homes. The most basic of these options includes setting up open-sided tents in their backyard, expecting that children will need to keep their coats on as the weather cools. Some families seek to repurpose family RVs as modern one-room schoolhouses. Still others are adding tiny homes (more formally known as accessory dwelling units) to their property, figuring they can be used as guest spaces or even Airbnb rentals after the pandemic. Some commercial real estate agents are hoping to repurpose vacant store fronts as pod school locations outfitted with high-speed internet and large flat-screen monitors.

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      Covid-19      Services    

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    

Lockers for Your House: Innovations Following Trends in E-Commerce & Contact-Free Delivery

More people are ordering deliveries – groceries, restaurant meals, cat food, gardening supplies, etc. – than ever before.

Although more people are working or self-quarantining at home, some deliveries are still not completed (perhaps the homeowner was in the backyard and didn’t hear the doorbell, they were bathing the dog, they were trying to get the baby to nap, they were refereeing an argument between the kids, etc) to the great frustration of consumers. Additionally, many are still concerned about the security of their deliveries… especially if they are unable to make it to the door right away.

Instead relying on watching the door, an app notification, or your video doorbell to tell you when your delivery has arrived, more consumers are looking for alternatives. The DIY solution is large plastic totes with signs noting to place deliveries inside. However, those are still not secure.

People who live in multiunit dwellings might have a central package storage area manned by a doorman or other office personnel. Delivery lockers are also increasingly common in urban areas. Despite the deployment of package pickup lockers at third party retailers and other parcel pickup stores in suburban areas, they are not widely available and not generally popular where they are offered as it requires leaving home to retrieve your delivery.

The solution being tested more broadly are home-based, weather-resistant, secure outdoor storage boxes. Some, like BoxLock, can be opened if the delivery person scans the packages barcode into the lock, while others can be opened with one-time numerical, QR, or other types of codes provided by the homeowner.

The increasing delivery need and the ongoing developments in home security options will lead to even more innovations in this area.

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

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Packaging      Services