Many pandemic-related shopping behaviors continue, even as consumers return to more normal activities
Port Washington, NY, September 7, 2021 – Sales revenue from small appliances and housewares continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2019 by about one-third, but since the end of April, when U.S. vaccinations reached 100 million and the flow of stimulus money slowed, sales of many home products began to slow. Between April 25 and July 31, 2021, sales revenue from small appliances grew by just 2% over the same time last year and housewares declined by 5%, according to The NPD Group. The products that have sustained last year’s strong performance, during this slowing period, illustrate that some of the new consumer behaviors that emerged through the pandemic appear to be sticking around.
“Even before the Delta variant was a factor, it became clear that our at-home lifestyle had undergone some structural changes, as a result of the pandemic,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at NPD. “The pandemic-based behaviors that were adopted out of necessity are now fully embraced by consumers, which provides some longer-term opportunities for the home industry.”
By necessity last year, many away from home and do-it-for-me activities became do-it-yourself activities. This year, for example more coffee drinks are being made in peoples’ homes – especially flavored and specialty coffee drinks. This shift is expressed in rising sales of espresso makers and single-serve coffee appliances. Weekday lunch needs are also bringing growth to toaster ovens, and similar small-appliances categories, as working-at-home continues to be a reality for many consumers, and as increasing numbers of small households engage in cooking at home. Hand-held massagers and heating pads are also finding comfort, thanks to increased emphasis on wellness, combined with lingering consumer hesitation to return to spas for in-person attention.
During the height of the pandemic last year, consumers also embarked on some entirely new in-home behaviors. Health and wellness extended well beyond in-home exercise and muscle-aches remedies. Many people sought new ways to make their homes and working environments healthier, as illustrated by rises in hand-held specialty cleaning appliances and humidifiers. Many households also became new pet owners, creating greater need for a higher level of carpet and upholstery cleaning.
Bringing back missed connections
Consumers are still looking for safe ways to bring back missed connections with families and friends, leading to more outdoor entertaining and a need for more casual table settings. Some people looked to expand their cooking repertoire, bringing new opportunities for a host of specialty preparation gadgets and cooking appliances, while rising sales of specialty drink makers and barware tools are setting the stage for refreshed experiences.
“Consumers may have been stuck at home through the peak of the pandemic, but that time elevated the importance placed on the comforts of home,” Derochowski said. “The future of home product sales still remains uncertain on many levels, however these behavioral changes are showing staying power that the home industry shouldn’t ignore.”