When I was an impressionable young girl in the early 70’s, my favorite TV shows were Happy Days and 60 Minutes. Part of that might have been due to the fact that we only had one television in the house and with six people sharing it, I was the last person to choose what we got to watch. 60 Minutes and the news, in general, were staples.
That early exposure made me a news junkie. Today, I love reading the news, watching the news, listening to news radio, and I still love watching “newsmagazines” like Dateline (you might say I’m addicted). Overall, this ongoing exposure to the news media has likely made me a more skeptical person; not because the world is negative, but because I’m exposed to a lot of negative news as that tends to be what drives the news cycle.
One negative topic that has been in the news a lot lately is the fact that fewer babies are being born. Not surprisingly, because of COVID-19, young families put the brakes on having babies. According to the CDC, the number of live births last year were down -3.8% in the U.S. alone, that’s about 142,000 fewer babies born in 2020 compared to 2019. More recently, an April 2021 analysis of birth records in 25 states conducted by the Associated Press found that those states collectively had 9-10% fewer births in January and February this year.
But there is some good news out there about a possible “baby boom.” It’s just that it hasn’t been widely reported, perhaps because it is good news.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study conducted by the University of Michigan’s department of obstetrics and gynecology. This group of researchers analyzed medical records and found the average weekly number of pregnant women fell 16% March through June 2020. Based on the data they projected a 16% decline in deliveries from December 2020 through April 2021 (which is exactly what happened). Based on the number of pregnant women this spring, they predict that the number of births this summer and fall will be 15% above normal—a baby boom.
Granted, the research study was conducted within one hospital system and there might be other reasons that this one particular hospital system is seeing an increase. This could be why it has not been widely reported. We do need to see some additional validation.
What I can tell you is that The NPD Group tracks the Juvenile Products industry and I believe we can validate a positive shift in birthrates. What we already know is that the number of baby products sold highly correlates to how many babies are born each year.
For January through April 2021, prior to this so-called baby boom, the unit increase in NPD’s Juvenile Products service compared to January through April 2019 was 12% (we compare to 2019 due to the volatility in 2020 caused by COVID-19). Keep in mind, this growth of 12% January through April 2021 was propped up by two stimulus checks. When I compared May/June 2021 combined to May/June 2019, which had no additional stimulus money, we saw an increase in units of 17%.
While we still don’t know for sure if this truly is a baby boom and, if it is, how long it will last, if true it will be welcome news for the Juvenile Products and Toy industries. Not to mention for all of us news junkies out there who are yearning for a positive story!