For many, where you choose to live has often directly correlated with where you are currently employed or where you are employed has helped to determine where you choose to live. This relationship is a common one for many – but that may be changing. One unexpected outcome of the need for many to work remotely over the last year is the opportunity for some Americans to redesign their future – with work-from-home opportunities expanding for the long-term and companies benefitting from opening their talent pools to candidates outside of where their corporate offices are located.
As of December 2020, nearly 20% of consumers indicated they are working from home full time (five days a week)1 and a growing number of companies are currently offering the option to work from home at least part-time and plan to continue to do so in the future.2 For some, this flexibility has opened the door to new places to call home.
Every year, 35-40 million moves take place across America and in a typical year, more than half of annual moves take place between May and September, with approximately 32% happening in July and August. U.S. household moving and relocation trends in response to the pandemic’s impact on job situations and lifestyle changes show that 28% of Americans have at least somewhat thought about relocating due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and U.S. households that indicate planning to move in 2021 increased by 20 percentage points from 2020 to 56%.
With moving season quickly approaching, this relocation activity is helping to boost sales of storage and organization products in addition to moving supplies. Recent estimates show that about 11% of American households are renting a self-storage unit and the industry has grown an average of 8% every year since 2012 contributing to the growth in sales of portable and bulk storage categories in office supplies. In 2020, this category grew 4% in stores and 86% online versus prior year.3 That’s 5X the previous years’ growth rate online and growth is expected to continue into 2021. Home Hardware retailers are also benefiting from storage trends growing overall storage category dollar sales 11% versus prior year in 2020, based on NPD’s Checkout data. Additionally, mailing and shipping products including moving supplies have also grown at 5X the rate of the previous year supported by online sales of corrugated boxes and packaging tape up 83% and 79%. Packing accessories are up 32% with items like glass moving kits, brown moving boxes and other moving kits ranking in the top 10 growth items.3
Consumers are relocating for a variety of reasons. Some temporary while others more permanent in nature. Understanding the nature of the move – proximity to family, retirement, lower cost of living, employment – is a critical component to meeting the consumer on their journey before, during, and after they make their relocation. And for those temporary movers, whenever they are ready to move again.
Consumers and employers are having to permanently adapt and adjust to a future where work and lifestyle options are more flexible in nature. There will be variance by industry and vertical, but these factors will drive nearly one-third of Americans to consider relocation, as well as impact industries and continue to impact how/where consumers shop in the future. As U.S. households adjust to the permanent lifestyle impacts from COVID and redesign how they will move forward, brands within office supplies and adjacent industries can engage with consumers through new touch points and better products and programs that make it easier for consumers on the move in 2021.
1Source: The NPD Group / Omnibus, December 2020
2Source: The NPD Group / Return to Work Report
3Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, 52WE Jan. 30, 2021