Port Washington, NY, March 17, 2021 – The start of 2021 brought U.S. consumers hope for a return to “normalcy”, and more than half of consumers anticipate returning to many of their pre-pandemic activities starting in the next few months. However, in January their at-home life still looked much like it did for most of 2020, and their focus on home-product spending continued. Dollar sales of small appliances and housewares grew 46% and 38%, respectively, in January. 1 Aided by a round of new stimulus checks, these industry gains come after reaching nearly $53 billion in combined U.S. sales in 2020 with annual growth in excess of 25%, according to Checkout information from The NPD Group.
The home industry thrived in 2020 by addressing consumer needs related to cooking and cleaning, as well as boredom and balancing new in-home dynamics, which resulted in double-digit growth in all major segments.
“Consumers have been spending more time at home than ever before, and that continues to be true through much of the first quarter of 2021,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at NPD. “As we mark the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is optimism that we’ll be able to return to some semblance of normalcy soon. Looking ahead, the home industry’s challenge of driving continued growth can be supported by helping the consumer adjust to the next phases of at-home living.”
Last year, four of the top seven small appliance and housewares growth categories were focused on home cleaning, something U.S. consumers said they are doing more of with their increased free time since the start of the pandemic2. More time at home, the addition of new pets, and health concerns helped to drive growth in air purifiers and several floor care categories. At the start of this year, more kitchen appliances top the list, demonstrating a greater focus on new in-home meal needs. As consumers gear up for a return to “normalcy” and set resolutions for the new year, products like air fryers, blenders, toaster ovens, and single-serve coffeemakers offer convenient solutions for each of the day’s meals.
The consumer’s return to pre-pandemic activities will be multifaceted, as vaccination levels increase and restrictions ease. Nearly 60% of U.S. consumers told NPD in a recent survey2 that they anticipate returning to pre-pandemic leisure travel within the next year. Among Americans with children, half anticipate returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity with their children – like movies, theme parks, and vacations –within the next 5 months, or have done so already. More than a third of U.S. consumers anticipate working from home at least 1 day a week in the next 6-12 months, and 20% of consumers say they will only host larger group gatherings with family or friends once they are vaccinated.
“As the consumer becomes more comfortable returning to some of their pre-pandemic ways, they will begin spending more time juggling daily and social activities, which means that convenience and saving time will be a top priority again,” says Derochowski. “The home industry needs to be prepared to address the new needs that emerge as the consumer moves toward post-pandemic living, while also making it easier for them to continue newly adopted behaviors.”
1Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, 4 weeks ending January 30, 2021
2Source: The NPD Group / February 2021 Omnibus