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.

Toilet Paper Shortages Cause Demand for Bidets to Shoot Up

For many US consumers, the quest for toilet paper has been a Sisyphean ordeal, as stores have either sold out of or greatly limited purchases of this once humble product. However, some consumers have decided to largely eliminate this quest for toilet paper by installing a product only rarely seen in the US bathroom: the bidet.

Common in Europe and much of Asia, bidets sharply reduce or even eliminate the need for toilet paper. While bidets have traditionally been large standalone fixtures, many of newer bidet models are smaller in size. Indeed, many of these units can be attached to existing toilet fixtures and can be run on existing water supply lines – eliminating the need for costly plumbing work.

Bidets provide a number of additional advantages:

  • environmental – toilet paper production in the US is an energy- and water-intensive process, not to mention the virgin paper pulp and chlorine involved for most types
  • on-site plumbing protection – reduced use of toilet paper can minimize the incidence of clogs and extend the service of a home’s drain, waste, and vent systems
  • improved municipal waste treatment – sewer systems will find it easier to treat waste water, as there will be less toilet paper to break down in waste treatment systems
  • home value – installing a bidet can create a bathroom with a more modern or European style, enhancing both its utility and value
  • hygiene and skin protection – bidets clean better than paper and are gentler on delicate skin
  • economics – reduced spending on toilet paper will cover the cost of a more basic add-on bidet option within 6 months

Still, bidet suppliers have a cultural resistance to overcome in the US. However, the scarcity of toilet paper – particularly high-end varieties – has created an opportunity on which the industry can capitalize. Consumer education, increasing exposure to bidets in travel and high-end hotels, and appealing to younger and environmentally concerned consumers will further boost sales.

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).

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Sales of Top Food Brands Surge; Shortages on Grocery Shelves Could Mean Opportunities for Upstarts

I think no one is surprised by news from Modelez that sales of Oreo cookies and Cheez-it and Triscuit snack crackers are surging. Who among us hasn’t stocked up on beloved snack treats for our kids (or ourselves) now eating every meal at home?

At times of crisis, consumers often seek out known brands, particularly those that we associate with childhood or simpler times. Also, as more shoppers are looking to get in and out of grocery stores quickly, known brands makes decision making easy.

However, as demand spikes and supply chains struggle to keep up, some store shelves have limited stocks of the best known brands. I remember telling friends after a recent shopping trip, that the store had everything I was looking for, if not the exact brand.

This crisis presents several opportunities for upstart companies and less known brands:

  • If consumers try these brands when their preferred and known version is unavailable, they might be willing to keep buying it post-crisis
  • Limited supplies of known brands can make it easier for less known brands to stand out on shelves, perhaps getting prime eye-level space they would not have otherwise had
  • Consumers suddenly doing more cooking and providing all meals of the day from their kitchens might be seeking variety and find that hoped for novelty in upstart food companies
  • Consumers looking to avoid in-person shopping might discover new brands online. New brands are more likely to sell through direct-to-consumer channels, skipping retail shelves altogether

For more information, see our sister publisher Package Facts’ coverage of the food and beverage industry as well as The Freedonia Group’s coverage of the packaging industry. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage    

Post-Coronavirus, 2021 a Pivotal Year for Point-of-Sale (POS) Market

By next year, the aftershocks of the current coronavirus pandemic will fully be felt, according to experts with our sister publisher Packaged Facts. As a result, the market is expected to face a significant setback in 2021, as the corrosive effects of a global recession if not depression set in, along with fintech players’ tactical responses to the changed economic and consumer credit landscape. 

Many companies in the sector are fueled by private capital interests that may or may not be willing to support the petri-dish experimentation of credit strategies that has characterized this new consumer credit industry. Packaged Facts points out that none of these companies has lived through an economic crisis and while this industry segment benefited from the after-shocks of the Great Recession, their own business models haven’t been stress-tested by a major downturn.

Even so, Packaged Facts argues that prime and super prime credit consumers will tend to return to that credit status, despite the significant personal finance setbacks that will follow from the COVID-19 economic downdraft. This means that prime+ debt they hold today may take a while—maybe even a long while--to be paid off, but that payoff will indeed happen.

Packaged Facts therefore projects the U.S. point-of-sale financing industry to claw its way back to aggressive double-digit growth, thereby approaching $2 trillion in revenues by 2025. 

For more information, see our sister publisher Packaged Facts’ report Point-of-Sale Installment Loans: The U.S. Market and International Perspectives, with COVID-19 Market Impact Assessment. We publish market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, and pet products and services.


  Covid-19    

A Solid Market Footing, Pandemic Notwithstanding

As of April 2020, the U.S. pet industry has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic for over a month. Currently undermining business operations in the pet industry and beyond are:

  • the number of coronavirus cases and casualties climbing every day
  • unemployment claims skyrocketing due to business cutbacks and closures, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing
  • daily gyrations across international stock markets

Combine this with the employment uncertainty—highlighted by the nearly 17 million (and still growing number of) unemployment claims filed by mid-April—and even the recession resistance of the pet market will be challenged throughout 2020, although the federal stimulus package intended to jump-start recovery will likely mitigate losses to some degree, notes our sister publisher Packaged Facts in the new report Reptile Products: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities.

Not knowing how long the medical coronavirus crisis will last, how severe the economic fallout will be, or how much the pandemic will alter relationships between domestic and world markets, it is hard to predict the impacts on the U.S. pet industry. Nevertheless, numerous societal and demographic factors at play in the market are likely to remain in force during and after the crisis, suggesting the business is on firm footing for recovery after the pandemic.

For more information, see our sister publisher Packaged Facts’ coverage of the pet industry.


  Covid-19    

US Automotive Industry & Supply Chains Temporarily Reshaped by COVID-19

US automobile manufacturers have quickly altered their operations due to COVID-19. Many firms adjusted to slumping new car sales by slowing down assembly lines or ceasing production altogether, while other manufacturers have worked to re-tool production to make ventilators and other needed medical equipment. This contraction of automobile production activity has affected hundreds of companies across the US.

Suppliers of automobile parts and components have been hard hit as orders for their products have dried up. Given that – in many cases – these suppliers rely on subcontractors with the parts needed to put together steering, axle, chassis, and the other assemblies, the shutdown of a single plant can ripple down to multiple other businesses.

Furthermore, this drop in orders will affect those companies that provide raw materials to the industry. Getting beyond the more obvious metals used to produce modern automobiles, such as steel and aluminum, a wide range of other inputs is also required, such as plastic resins, rubber (not only for tires but for acoustical and vibration control), composites (e.g., fiberglass and carbon fibers), coated fabrics (for upholstery, headlining, air bags, etc.), and glass.

Some of those materials – including plastics and coated fabrics – can be reposed into needed personal protective equipment and some plastics, gaskets, and other items will be used for ventilators. However, a prolonged shutdown of the nation’s automobile production capacity would still have dire effects cascading through to parts suppliers and firms that provide key raw materials.

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive catalog of off-the-shelf research. Each report includes analysis of competitive strategies, including joint ventures and merger and acquisition activity. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


  Automotive & Transport      Covid-19