Digital Migration: How the Market adapted to COVID-19

March 31, 2021

Alongside obvious sectors of the consumer market, COVID-19 affected many areas of consumer spending. 

The Covid-19 lockdowns have set what many experts believe to be an irreversible set of trends in the market. While some areas ultimately became stable, others skyrocketed, namely online. Less fortunate areas of spending experienced a swift death. 

While earlier stimulus checks appeared to cause a more epic sway on entertainment spending, now considered a norm, the checks are being applied to everyday consumption and more as a small boost rather than a once-in-a-lifetime gift. 

The Early Days

There has been a notable worldwide scramble for toiletries, non-perishable foods, and cleaning supplies in both the earlier stages of COVID-19 at the start of 2020 up until now. Toilet paper, most notably, was out of stock in many stores due to basic panic. Impromptu vendors and even online platforms rushed to buy toiletries in bulk and scaled the prices to turn a profit. Cleaning supplies took a turn for coveting and continue to do so.

Cleaning supplies sales grew up to 400% more than their sales from prior years, along with easily stored non-perishables, like ramen and boxed goods. This upswing in consumer focus towards cleanliness is still in effect. 

In addition to the more obvious jumps in consumer focus on cleaning products, many of these trends may, in fact, be understated due to large company donation processes.

The cleaning product sector is still swelled with the basic push of hygiene, and disinfectant needs bubbling underneath it. Still, it is not entirely likely that these purchasing decisions will last into the future. 

Online Spending

Likely the absolute most long-term effect of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns is the solidification of online shopping. During the lockdown, we learned on a global scale that we are incredibly capable of thriving while social distancing.

Amazon, for example has seen only gains in profit since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns. This may also indicate what a new consumer market may end up with.

Online shopping falls into many categories, like restaurants. In 2020, we witnessed a doubling of food-delivery app use, and that trend continues today. 

Companies That Experienced a Fall

A handful of sectors experienced a small death, with numbers exponentially dropping off and recovering only slowly, if at all. 

Most of these markets were tied to brick and mortar retail or travel. J. C. Penney Co., already known for being unable to contend with online first retailers, experienced a final death-knell and filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Tailored Brands and J. Crew also finally succumbed due to the lockdowns and restrictions.

Travel companies also took major hits due to travel bans. Hertz Global Holdings, for example, was already having trouble, but when lockdowns started, used and rental cars sat idle in lots, urging the company to finally file for bankruptcy on May 22, 2020.  

The Stimulus Checks

According to data, stimulus checks during the pandemic appear to have been spent based on ways that tie to an individual’s demographic information, with larger and lower-income households spending down their debt and more educated households with fewer people choosing to save their checks or invest. Just about 7% of the stimulus checks went towards durable goods.

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