Pulse on the market: A COVID holiday season

By Andrew Tweedy on December 23rd, 2020

As the season changes and the pandemic surges, Centricity has been tracking how Americans have adjusted to an unusual holiday season. A second wave of COVID-19 has spurred more shortages in paper goods and cleaning supplies, but even outside those industries, every retailer and CPG company is having to navigate the volatile pandemic economy. As 2020 draws to a close, here are a few trends we’ve seen shape the holiday market thus far:

Kids in the kitchen make for playful sous-chefs

With schools closed and temperatures dropping, all indications are that children are spending more time inside than at other times during the pandemic. Parents seem to be finding new, creative ways of keeping their kids occupied, this time turning to the kitchen for inspiration. Centricity has seen a 167% increase in demand for baking gels and writing gels over the past month, indicating that more people are encouraging their children to join them in baking by adding colorful, creative accents to their winter treats. 

Similarly, with the holidays upon us and school sessions winding down for winter break, parents are embracing a more playful approach to toys. Whereas earlier in the school year we saw highest consumer intent for motor skills toys (presumably in an effort to keep playtime productive), we’re now seeing parents lean more toward fun toys. Since November, demand for stacking towers and board games is up more than 170%. And it’s no coincidence that demand for pretend play kitchen sets is mirroring that surge, up by almost 200%, with parents in the kitchen and kids following their lead.

Amateur mixology, coming soon to a living room near you

The DIY movement is here, with many trying their hand at new at-home activities. A prime example is the surge in first-time bakers this year, a trend that Centricity has seen continuing through the holiday season, with measuring spoons and cups showing spikes of 175% over the last month. 

But beyond breads and pastries, the newest wave is the upgraded at-home drinking experience. Premium mixology ingredients have surged, highlighted by a 123% increase in demand for cocktail garnishes, which are meant to accentuate or complement flavors in a cocktail as a final touch. People clearly aren’t waiting around for bars to reopen, instead recreating their favorite fancy cocktails on their own, driving the emerging amateur mixology market.

Home for the holidays, without the manicure

Local governments everywhere are pleading with people to stay home and contain the spread of the virus. And by one measure, it appears those appeals may be working. Where the holiday season would usually correlate with a spike in beauty products sales, demand for nail polish, nail kits, and makeup remover has instead plummeted by over 160% over the last month. Seen through that lens, people seem to be staying in … or at least not dressing up. 

America’s sweet tooth is reborn

The holiday season is often defined by comforts and indulgence, and while the beginning of the pandemic led to upticks in health-related foods and activities, the winter seems to be bucking that trend. The sweet snacks category is trending upward, buoyed by an 84% increase in demand since last month. For those less inclined to do their own baking, the market for pre-made treats is doing well, with increases of 85% for pre-made cookies and 105% for pre-made muffins. Vegetables, on the other hand, aren’t faring quite as well these days, down 18% from last month.

How Centricity can help

With the Retail and CPG markets evolving rapidly, leaders no longer have time to wait for sales data before they make crucial decisions. From product development to market share expansion, Centricity helps companies spot trends as soon as they arise, providing actionable workflow solutions before sales data even exists. Check back to the Centricity Blog throughout 2021 for regular updates on how we’re using forward-looking data to keep a pulse on the most important markets. Until then, stay safe and have a happy holiday season!

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