US Protective Packaging: COVID-19 E-Commerce Sales Among Trends Driving 4.4% Annual Growth Through 2024

US demand for protective packaging is forecast to rise 4.4% annually to $7.5 billion in 2024, finds a new Freedonia Group analysis. Gains will be supported by a healthy outlook in durable goods manufacturing, the leading market for protective packaging, and a growing willingness among end users to employ higher value protective packaging materials if they help realize savings in other areas, such as shipping and labor costs and product loss.

However, the fastest advances are expected for the e-commerce market, bolstered by rapid growth in online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-commerce growth driven by rising availability of online consumer options

Through 2024, e-commerce will continue to provide growth opportunities for protective packaging as consumers become more comfortable ordering fragile, high-value, and temperature-sensitive items – such as alcoholic beverages, groceries, pharmaceuticals, and consumer electronics – online.

  • These items require added protection and thus more packaging to ensure safe transport.
  • Consumers opting for e-commerce due to the added convenience of not having to go to the store increases the number of packages shipped and thus demand for protective packaging.
  • However, e-commerce trends aimed at improving efficiency – e.g., right-sized and e-commerce ready packaging – will hinder faster growth.

COVID-19 pandemic driving surge in e-commerce traffic

E-commerce was on track to continue increasing its share of protective packaging sales even before the COVID-19 lockdown, when a surge of new online retail customers began logging on. The ongoing crisis will hasten e-commerce’s takeover of traditional retail, particularly as consumers are likely to continue to view e-commerce as a safer alternative to shopping in person due to risk of infection even after lockdown orders are lifted.

Want to learn more about Protective Packaging?

Protective Packaging is now available from the Freedonia Group. This study analyzes the US market for protective packaging by product type (flexible, foam, and rigid) and by market (durable goods manufacturing, nondurable goods manufacturing, e-commerce, and other markets such as retail). Historical data (2009, 2014, and 2019) and forecasts for 2024 are presented for protective packaging demand in current US dollars (including inflation) by product and market.