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2020 didn’t hold any punches in its portrayal of the year ahead. When the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe in March, numerous companies were forced to choose between fighting or fleeing as the virus caused havoc on the market environment:

  • Non-essential businesses, such as taverns and sit-down restaurants, were forced to adapt or shut, many permanently, while important businesses, such as mass merchants and industrial facilities, were required to follow stricter safety and sanitation regulations.
  • Consumer spending decreased rapidly as unemployment surged, unsettling markets and driving major global economies into recession.
  • Despite the fact that construction activity remained largely uninterrupted, investment dried up, leading many commercial building projects to stall even as residential construction spending grew.

As economies reopened in the months after May, things gradually returned to some semblance of routine. While a vaccine is in the works, Covid-19 instances are on the increase again, retail sales are stagnating, and additional lockdowns are a distinct possibility.

MarketResearch.com analysts are keeping a close eye on the pandemic’s economic impact throughout it all, assisting businesses across a wide range of industries in sorting through the noise to identify and prepare for near-term challenges and opportunities, as well as long-term trends that the pandemic is hastening.

This year’s research highlighted a number of variables that are supporting businesses in surviving the pandemic, some of which were foreseen, such as the ongoing shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, and others that were less obvious, such as the increase in house improvements. Our experts analyze which markets got a break in 2020 and what their post-pandemic prospects are in the following sections.

PPE Demand Explodes Amid Pandemic Control Efforts

According to research conducted by the Freedonia Group, the pandemic has maintained high levels of demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks and shields, as well as disposable medical gloves, which saw strong increase in 2020.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) became widely used outside of the healthcare and medical sectors as a result of mask regulations, health advice, and personal efforts to stop the virus from spreading. The outbreak, for example, triggered unprecedented mask sales in restaurants, offices, manufacturing sites, schools, banks, and retailers — end users who had never purchased these items in such big numbers previously.

“Even if reusable masks are widely used, disposable mask demand is expected to reach levels more than five times greater than in previous international pandemics like SARS or H1N1,” says Teresa Hayes of MarketResearch.com’s The Freedonia Group.

While demand for these commodities is expected to diminish once a vaccine is available and cases decline, the market will likely remain above levels seen before 2020 for some time as Covid-19’s behavioral and psychological effects persist.

Abrupt Shift to Remote World Accelerates Trends in Digital Markets

Customers rushed to the internet to do what they couldn’t do in person as the economy collapsed in March, fueling long-term trends toward e-commerce and remote learning and employment.

E-Learning Takes Center Stage as Schools & Universities Close

The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the trend to digital learning in both K-12 schools and colleges and universities, according to Kathy Mickey of MarketResearch.com’s Simba Information, as institutions have closed and sent students home. As a consequence, there has been an increase in demand for Chromebooks, digital textbooks, and other digital apps (especially those compatible with Google Meet and Zoom) that support remote learning.

“We foresee increasing incorporation of digital programs/tools in classrooms after school resumes in-person mode,” Mickey continues, “since teachers will have become more aware of and comfortable with them.” “However, we don’t see a significant desire among students (especially in grades K-12) to spend the whole day in front of a computer.”

 Covid-19 E-Commerce Sales Spike Benefits Pouches & Other E-Commerce Packaging

Consumers have been moving to e-commerce from traditional brick-and-mortar stores for years, but the pandemic has hastened the process:

  • In March, the government closed non-essential companies, thereby eliminating brick-and-mortar as a viable option for many things.
  • Many consumers concerned about the coronavirus began limiting their in-person visits to grocery stores and other businesses that were deemed important and allowed to operate throughout the outbreak.

As a result, online retailers like as Amazon and Instacart reported significant revenue increases, while critical shops saw a significant rise in online purchases and use of services like curbside pickup. As the Christmas season approaches, online sales continue to climb even after most establishments have reopened.

Though there are other comparable possibilities, flexible packaging is one area where growth will be spurred in part by the epidemic’s e-commerce inclinations. Pouches, for example, are expected to benefit from an increased reliance on e-commerce for food, beverages, medications, and consumer goods since, due to their low weight and toughness, they are more suited to shipping than other kinds of packaging.

Online Food Delivery Reaches Broad New Audience Following Restaurant Closures

One of the businesses worst hit by the March economic shutdowns and the social distance requirements of the May reopenings is the restaurant industry, which is looking to move online to offset revenue losses from dine-in capacity constraints and client apprehension about eating out during a pandemic.

Online meal delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats have been around for a while, but client preferences for eating out, particularly in the large US market, have been a major roadblock to their growth. Covid-19 has changed all of that, causing rapid growth in both the number of users and the number of restaurants hosted by these platforms, which is expected to outlast the pandemic.

Unexpected Consumer Markets Surge Due to Shutdowns

While individuals were locked at home under quarantine, consumer purchasing behavior moved toward luxury, comfort, and novelty.

Frozen Food Packaging Suppliers Get Boost as Consumers Splurge & Stock Freezers

Panic buying and increased indulgence buying caused huge growth for frozen food and ice cream firms during the pandemic, increasing demand for the many types of packaging used for these products.

“Unlike many other firms, frozen meals — and the packaging for these commodities — are seeing an increase in sales during the pandemic, due to changes in customer buying behaviors,” says Carolyn Zulandt of Freedonia. Consumers are preparing more meals at home and stockpiling items with longer shelf lives, all of which promotes sales in the freezer section.”

Increased frozen food sales are anticipated to benefit cups often used for traditional ice cream pints, as well as ready-to-heat trays and (increasingly) bowls used for single-serve frozen meals.

With Shift to Remote Work & Learning, Pet Ownership Skyrockets

Covid-19 sparked a surge in pet adoption, as reported in the headlines and confirmed by Packaged Facts pet owner surveys, culminating in a great year for the pet industry. “A big amount of this boom has consisted of pet fanatics adding to their menageries,” according to David Sprinkle of MarketResearch.com’s Packaged Facts, with new pet buys expanding beyond dogs and cats to other types of creatures, including reptiles and small mammals.

“The spike in pet adoption is tied not just to the stay-at-home pandemic period, but also to having kids underfoot at home, given school closures and the disruption of recreational and entertainment activities,” Sprinkle explains. Multiple-pet households are more likely to be higher-income, fueling the pet product and service premiumization trend that has changed the pet industry and made it an investor’s favorite.”

E-Bike Sales Boom as Consumers Seek Fun, Safe Alternatives to Public Transport

Bike businesses projected a large decline in sales when the lockdowns started in March. Instead, the exact reverse happened. Demand for bikes, particularly e-bikes, soared throughout the world during the pandemic as people sought fun, safe alternatives to public transportation, while supply systems struggled to keep up.

“The area gives manufacturers a lot of alternatives since it includes some of the world’s most developed e-bike markets (Germany, Netherlands) as well as places with a lot of room for growth, like France,” says Freedonia analyst Gleb Mytko. Both local and foreign e-bike manufacturers are proactively investing in Europe today, expanding their sales and distribution networks and releasing the next generation of e-bikes.”

Flurry of Renovation Activity Boosts Demand for Home Improvement Products

As they have spent more time at home than ever before, homeowners have been investing part of the money saved on canceled excursions and vacations into house renovations.

Exterior Renovations to Rise in 2021, Benefiting Wood-Look Siding & Fencing

Home renovation projects are expected to continue positive in 2021, according to Freedonia analyst Matt Zielenski, as projects shift from inside applications such as kitchen and bath improvements to outside applications such as siding and fence renewal.

“Wood’s appearance is highly sought after in many parts of the United States — it can actually add to a house’s curb appeal and value — but many consumers balk at the effort necessary to keep wood looking flawless,” says Zielinski. “As a result, demand for vinyl and wood-plastic composite (WPC) fences, as well as cellular PVC and fiber cement siding, which may be engineered to appear like wood but have longer product lifespans and need less maintenance, will increase.”

Staycationing Homeowners Bolster Sales of Pools & Outdoor Living Products

During the outbreak, staycationing homeowners with more cash on hand due to canceled vacation plans increased outdoor living, which was already a fast-growing sector. Because they were stranded at home this summer, these consumers flooded pool and spa companies with orders they couldn’t satisfy, resulting in increased sales of items like outdoor furniture, heating systems, and cooking equipment that enhance the comfort of pool/spa areas and other outdoor places.

Outdoor living products are predicted to be popular for home modifications in the future, and although demand is normally seasonal, staycationing habits are expected to remain strong in the aftermath of the pandemic as the travel and tourism industries slowly recover.

Plumbing Products Demand Bolstered by Bath Renovations, Hygiene/Sanitation Concerns

Bathroom renovations have always been popular among homeowners, but during the pandemic, they became much more so. Despite lower activity in most nonresidential building construction segments due to the pandemic, spending on bath renovations in some commercial buildings is increasing — particularly in public-facing establishments such as offices, restaurants, schools and universities, and travel facilities as they retrofit for Covid-19 safety — supporting demand for plumbing products.

According to Kent Furst of Freedonia, “an increased focus on hygiene and sanitation has encouraged demand for high-tech touchless fixtures, particularly in bathroom settings.” Vacant or underutilized office and retail spaces, on the other hand, are hurting the whole commercial economy, limiting investment in (and replacement of) plumbing items.”