Pulse on the market: New year, still at home

Centricity Media

January 29 2021

Between the end of the holiday season, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and the Presidential Inauguration, the beginning of 2021 has been a time of change — what else is new? — for many Americans. Now, perhaps more than at any time since the beginning of the pandemic, businesses are facing an uncertain future, making forward-looking decisions difficult for many Retailers and CPG companies. As we start to get our footing in the new year, here are some of the trends Centricity has been tracking throughout January:

With holiday feasts finished, frozen meals flourish

The holiday season is wrapped up, the flurry of elaborate meals behind us — and, just like that, it appears many Americans are tired of being in the kitchen. After months of steady increases in baking and cooking supplies, those kitchen trends seem to be reversing. Over the last month, items in the Frozen department have seen a 14% increase in demand overall, with quick, easy dinner options showing particularly significant spikes. Frozen, fully cooked meat is up 23%, while frozen pizzas are up 44% and frozen meal combos up 65%. Such a spike could be explained by the dual effects of holiday cooking fatigue and COVID-related restaurant closures. For those craving a break from extended kitchen time, yet without options for going out for meals, the frozen section awaits.

Healthy meals, but make ‘em quick

What’s clear in this trend is that not all easy meals are quite as indulgent as a pizza fresh out of the oven. Last month, we highlighted the reemergence of America’s sweet tooth, with sweet snacks and pre-made treats showing huge spikes in demand. This month, however, Americans are headed in the opposite direction, with those same items down 71% overall. Diet and nutrition products, on the other hand, are up 69% in January, with a particular emphasis on “meal replacement” items. Health and nutrition powders are up over 120%, with meal replacement powders following at a more modest 21% increase. The same post-holiday cooking fatigue driving spikes in frozen items seems to be in play here, as well. The big difference here, though, being that these easy meals are of a healthier variety. Perhaps the annual wave of New Year’s Resolutions aimed at healthier habits is driving this divergence. 

Students all set on supplies after months at home

Much has been uncertain in American society during the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps none more so than the debate over school reopenings. In-person learning has been shut down for several months in many areas, and there continues to be widespread variability in when schools may reopen after the holidays — or whether they’ll just remain closed until the fall. If the market for school supplies is any indicator, parents don’t seem to be placing much faith in their children returning to the classroom any time soon. Over the last month, demand for writing tools and supplies, including pencils, crayons, and markers, is down 136%. At least for the time being, at-home learning is here to stay.

Home improvement looking greener in the winter

Throughout the pandemic, the home improvement industry has been an area of incredible growth, which isn’t much of a surprise with people spending so much time at home. However, with the winter beginning in earnest throughout much of the country, homeowners have seen their opportunities for larger projects dwindle of late. Yardwork materials have seen a recent decline in January, with demand for gardening supplies down over 53%. The floral department, too, has seen an overall decline in demand over the last month, down 31%, but an interesting trend has emerged from that downturn. Within the suffering department, blooming bulb gardens (including potted tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths) stand out as the lone category to see a spike in demand, up nearly 153% in January. The green thumbs among us always seem to find a way.

How Centricity can help

With the Retail and CPG markets facing unprecedented change, 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 in with the Centricity Blog for regular updates on how we’re using forward-looking data to keep a pulse on the most important markets.