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.

Contraction in Number of Retail Outlets to Affect Building Construction Market

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that thousands of retails stores are expected to close over the next five years as shoppers not only buy less, but – when they buy – increasingly do so online, for reasons of not only safety but also convenience. Among the many effects of this shift to online shopping is its effect on the building construction market.

The closure of so many stores over the next few years will affect retail construction going forward – with so many empty storefronts, builders and investors will be reluctant to embark upon new projects, as this glut of retail space will offer prospective store owners plenty of options. This decline in retail construction spending will affect demand for a wide range of building materials, from the basics (e.g., structural products, plumbing fixtures and fittings, flooring, lighting, and others) to more retail-specific items such as store fixtures (both cabinets and shelving) and the related casework for displays and cashier stations.

However, there will exist pockets of opportunities for the construction market. Eventually, a number of these retail sites will have occupants, be they retail stores, restaurants (such as quick-serve or pop-up kitchens), or even multifamily housing units. As these retail stores are refurbished and refitted, this will support demand for a wide range of building materials.

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s collection of research and analysis on construction and building product industries. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


Will High COVID-19 Infection Rates at Some Skilled Nursing Locations Have Long-Term Generational Effects on Perception of the Industry?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that the senior housing industry has had to make a number of adjustments to living, working procedures, and marketing efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Widely reported news of the spread of illness in senior housing during this pandemic has led to a number of older adults rethinking their plans to live in assisted living centers if instead they are able to stay home and have supplemental care from visiting nursing aides and/or family members. However, will the experience of this pandemic – and the expectation of future pandemics – linger with younger generations and leave them with a similar preference for aging at home?

While older adults have generally shown a strong preference for aging in place, that preference hasn’t been as enthusiastic among younger generations who have recently been more open to community living as they age. According to data from the September 2017 edition of The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey, 62% of respondents 65 and older strongly agreed with the statement “I prefer to age in place”. In contrast, only 45% of millennials felt that strongly. In fact, 20% of millennials neither agreed or disagreed with the statement, indicating an openness to the option as their awareness is more likely to include active senior living centers that are more attractive and home-like compared to the senior care facilities available to past generations.

The industry and governmental regulators must take significant steps to reassure younger people that elder care communities are safe and good options for care, as younger people will help older family members make decision about where to live as they age and will ultimately decide for themselves one day as well.

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s report on the elder care industry and other consumer topics, as well as Global Disposable Masks & Respirators and Global Disposable Medical Gloves. Additional targeted research is available from Freedonia Custom Research.

  Covid-19      Healthcare & Life Sciences    

Adaptation of Products that Promote Aging-in-Place to Increase Even After Pandemic Passes

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the challenges faced by the senior housing segment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many older US consumers and their families are concerned about the safety of such housing options, considering that many have seen COVID-19 outbreaks among residents and staff. Therefore, many are more seriously looking into how they can remain safely in their homes instead.

Older citizens have chosen to design their residences with senior-friendly features in order to “age-in-place” and delay or prevent the need to move to assisted living. Homes can incorporate a wide range of elements that facilitate aging-in-place, including:

  • walk-in bathtubs and showers with integrated seating and grab bars
  • toilets with elevated seats
  • sinks, showerheads, and toilets with “touchless” sensors that can be easily operated by those with arthritis or other issues
  • cabinets with doors that can be opened by simply pushing on them (instead of a pull or handle)
  • cabinets and countertops with integrated LED lighting
  • single-floor living and ramps instead of stairs (both inside and outside the home)

Going forward, builders and homeowners will continue to respond to this need by incorporating more of these features into residences. In addition to older homeowners opting to invest in remodeling their homes for aging-in-place, increasing numbers of other consumers will specify these products, as they not only enhance the convenience of their homes but also promote good hygiene, as such features as touchless faucets and cabinet doors minimize the risk of disease transmission.

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s collection of research and analysis on the construction, building product, and elder care industries. Additional targeted research is available from Freedonia Custom Research.


What’s Next For the Disposable Mask Industry in 2020

The Freedonia Group recently finished an analysis of the global disposable mask market. Two of the many important questions answered in this report center on if there will be sufficient supply and if the pandemic will fundamentally change future mask demand.

Production of masks is skyrocketing. In normal years, masks are mostly manufactured by small to medium sized companies you’ve never heard of (with the notable exceptions of 3M and Honeywell, which operate in the critical N95 respirator market niche). In 2020, mask makers now include disparate firms such as GM, Boeing, Foxconn, Prada, Eddie Bauer, and Panasonic. However, their contributions are temporary, so the long-term availability of masks depends largely on China’s 9,000 or more mask companies ramping up production, supplemented by increased activity among other textile powerhouses in Asia. Requirements for 2020 will likely be met, especially if exacting production standards are not enforced.

Whether this extra supply will be satisfied with additional future sales or lead to product surplus and unused capacity will be determined by factors such as:

  • how quickly virus cases level out and hospitalizations decrease
  • when and how countries open up their economies and what mask requirements are in place both for businesses and consumers
  • what medical stockpiling of these products looks like following economies reopening
  • when a vaccine or drug treatment for COVID-19 becomes widely available
  • the introduction and use of competitive products or processes including mask sterilization and reusable masks

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s coverage of Global Disposable Masks & Respirators, Global Filters, Global Nonwovens. Additional targeted research is available from Freedonia Custom Research.

  Consumer Goods      Textiles & Nonwovens    

Why Are Disinfecting Wipes Still So Hard To Find?

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, disinfecting wipes weren’t a high priority repeat shopping item for most households. According to data from The Freedonia Group’s National Online Consumer Survey conducted in July-August 2019, only 38% of respondents reported buying surface cleaning wipes (disinfecting or otherwise) more than once in the previous 12 months.

However, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, disinfecting wipes became a particularly hot object. They are a convenient cleaning option at a time when many people find themselves cleaning surfaces at home or at work multiple times a day. According to data from The Freedonia Group’s newest National Online Consumer Survey conducted in April-May 2020, 62% of respondents reported buying surface cleaning wipes (disinfecting or otherwise) more than once in the previous 12 months.

This big shift in new consumer demand was on top of increased use by existing wipes users at home and heightened demand from places such as commercial businesses, factories, retail stores, hospitals, and eldercare facilities.

So why is it getting easier to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but not disinfecting wipes? The spike in use was bigger and the barriers to entry are higher.

In response to the increased demand, Clorox has been running more shifts, shifted production capacity to the basic versions, and reached out to third-party manufacturers. The company is also making investments in capacity expansions, presuming that demand will remain high in the longer term.

Reckitt Benckiser, which sells Lysol and Dettol disinfectant products, expanded capacity and concentrated production on core needed production.

With heightened demand expected to continue through this crisis period and beyond, other wipes manufacturers may develop products for consumer markets. For instance, firms such as NicePak, which do a lot of business in healthcare and contract cleaning markets, could make headway by sending similar products to the consumer market once supplies are steady in the markets they already serve.

For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s Wipes, Global Nonwovens, and Industrial & Institutional Cleaning Chemicals. Contact your sales representative or The Freedonia Group’s customer service for information on our upcoming special Industrial & Institutional Disinfectants & Sanitizers report. Additional targeted research is available from Freedonia Custom Research.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19