This has been an uncertain year for Canadian consumers, and this uncertainty has caused us to increasingly turn to our homes as a place of refuge. Since the start of the pandemic, Canadians have been investing in home appliances like never before. For the year to date ending October, 2020 sales of home appliances are up +12%, while small appliance sales are up a remarkable +26% compared to last year.
The Q4 holiday season has always been critical for the appliance industry. In 2019, 37% of annual sales were made during Q4. Will the growth trends continue during the critical Q4 season, or have Canadians shifted holiday purchases earlier in the year?
There are many factors driving increased sales of home appliances so far this year.
Consumers want to feel safe and healthy in their homes, which has driven sales of air purifiers to record levels with growth of +57% year to date. This need has also driven sales of deep carpet cleaners, with growth of +59%.
Canadians are preparing more meals at home, given restrictions on food service/restaurant dining. This has led to growth in sales of coffee and espresso makers (+35%), as Canadians are no longer filling their caffeine requirements at the office or on their morning commute.
Families are looking for new activities to keep children occupied, which has a resulted in a resurgence in baking. Sales of stand mixers have seen exceptionally strong growth each month since the pandemic first impacted consumers, with year to date sales up +107%. Sales of bakeware are also up +29% year to date.
Many of us have turned to indulgent foods to deal with an emotional and difficult year. We have seen growth with “carb” appliances such as bread makers (+88%), and waffle irons (+48%). We have also seen growth with products to help us in preparing comfort foods such as air fryers (+91%), deep fryers (+43%), and even casserole dishes are up +41% year to date.
The drivers behind appliance purchases so far this year have not fundamentally shifted going into the holiday season. We are still spending more time at home, and will likely continue to do so well into 2021, until such time as a vaccine is widely available. As a result, we expect growth rates to continue this holiday season, as well as through Q1 2021. We have forecasted growth of +12% for the home appliance industry in Q4 indicating that purchasing of appliances earlier in the year will not negatively impact holiday purchasing*. We recently surveyed consumers to ask about their purchase plans for small appliances. We found that 21% of respondents had purchased an appliance already this year, and also plan to purchase an additional appliance. An additional 11% of respondents indicated that they had not purchased an appliance yet this year and were looking to purchase. This is a positive sign that consumers will continue to invest in appliances for their homes, and further evidence to support continued growth throughout Q4.
Looking Forward to 2021
A key challenge facing the industry moving into 2021 is how to maintain performance after an unprecedented year of growth. Consumers have invested in their homes at record levels – how can momentum be maintained going into 2021? Hopefully we will return to a life with reduced restrictions. This presents manufacturers and retailers an opportunity to help consumers celebrate once again. Consumers eagerly look forward to entertaining friends and family once again. This could lead to a focus on housewares such as tabletop, cutlery, and serving items, that did not perform as strongly in 2020. Weddings will hopefully resume in 2021, meaning a return of gift registries for new couples. Also, return to campus looked very different in 2020 as many students did not transition to dorm life but remained at home learning remotely. Return to campus in 2021 will provide opportunity to once again celebrate this milestone as young people are able to resume life on campus. Return to work and offices, and a less casual lifestyle, should lead to increased growth for products such as irons/garment steamers, hair dryers, curling irons and men’s shavers. In summary, while 2020 was an exceptional year, 2021 could still provide plenty of opportunity for growth.
*Source: The NPD Group / Economic Recovery Forecast