While the coronavirus – particularly the delta variant – remains a threat to the US economy, many consumers are guardedly optimistic about the future. Indeed, for those who have been fully vaccinated, there is much more freedom of activity, and the prospect of dining out, shopping, and doing other activities without wearing a mask has encouraged people to return to the modes of behavior they exhibited before the pandemic. Indeed, these changes are taking hold in the economy in surprising ways.
One change is that as people re-embrace in-store shopping, they are relying less on online purchasing. Thus, UPS reported that in the second quarter of 2021, it shipped fewer packages than the year before. While package shipping volumes are expected to remain high going forward, it is anticipated that as consumers continue to return to stores, shipments of packages will continue to recede. This, in turn, will affect demand for such packaging materials as:
- corrugated boxes and sleeves
- plastic films and bubble wrap
- tapes and other materials used to secure packages
Similarly, as concerns about the virus lessen, demand for cleaning products will also be affected. Indeed, the manufacturer of Lysol reported a decline in quarterly sales as consumers were less likely to religiously disinfect surfaces – a practice that became commonplace in the early stages of the COVD-19 pandemic when transmission vectors were less certain. Much as with UPS, while demand for these products is expected to remain high, sales are expected to recede from their elevated levels as consumers become less concerned about surface disinfection practices.
One thing that is NOT expected to recede going forward: the prices consumers pay for these and other products. Manufacturers of a wide range of items – food and drink, consumer products – expect prices to continue to rise throughout the rest of the year. While rising demand is playing a part in these rising prices, many of these price hikes are due to such factors as:
- rising costs of raw materials
- higher transportation and shipping costs
- higher prices and shortages of packaging materials
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Packaging area, as well as analysis from our sister publisher Packaged Facts. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.