Coronavirus Could Push Back-To-School Spending to Record Level as Uncertain Families Gear Up for At-Home Learning

By Staff
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 12:54 PM WASHINGTON—Consumers tentatively plan to spend a record amount to prepare students for school and college this year as they buy more laptops and computer accessories in anticipation that at least some classes will take place online because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the annual survey released this week by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“By any measure, this is an unprecedented year with great uncertainty, including how students will get their education this fall whether they are in kindergarten or college,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Most parents don’t know whether their children will be sitting in a classroom or in front of a computer in the dining room, or a combination of the two. But they do know the value of an education and are navigating uncertainty and unknowns so that students are prepared.”

Parents with children in elementary school through high school say they plan to spend an average $789.49 per family, topping the previous record of $696.70 they said they would spend last year. Spending is expected to total $33.9 billion, up from $26.2 billion last year and breaking the record of $30.3 billion set in 2012.

College students and their families expect to spend an average $1,059.20 per family, which would top last year’s record of $976.78. College spending is expected to total $67.7 billion, up from $54.5 billion last year and breaking the record of $55.3 billion set in 2018.

New Consumer Survey Shows Safety and Hygiene are Top of Mind for Back-to-School Season

By Staff
Monday, July 13, 2020 2:52 PM A new survey provides a detailed update on consumer behavior and sentiment amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. According to the survey, which was fielded on July 8, safety and hygiene are top of mind for consumers for the upcoming back-to-school season. A little over four in 10 back-to-school shoppers said they will buy face masks and/or other hygiene products/personal protective equipment for their children.

Online remains the preferred shopping channel for clothing and footwear.

Updated Forecast Shows E-Commerce Sales Climbing 18 Percent in 2020, But Overall Retail Dropping 10.5 Percent

By Staff
Friday, July 10, 2020 9:58 AM NEW YORK—It has been a difficult year for brick-and-mortar retail, of course. But, for e-commerce, the year 2020 has been a record-breaker for many firms. This is borne out in a revised forecast by eMarketer for the U.S. retail sector.

The research firm, in its February retail forecast, projected modest growth of 2.8 percent (to $5.62 trillion in total U.S. retail sales), but then the coronavirus pandemic hit hard, leading to “store closures, stay-at-home orders and declined demand for nonessential goods,” according to eMarketer.

As a result, the firm said it now expects there to be a 10.5 percent decline in U.S. retail sales this year, with a 14.0 percent drop in brick-and-mortar sales.

However, eMarketer said it believes the “news isn't dire for all retail channels. E-commerce is poised to grow 18.0 percent following a 14.9 percent gain in 2019, further evidence of the digital shift.”

Digital Loyalty Programs Are Prized Differentiator for Struggling Retailers

By Staff
Thursday, July 9, 2020 11:03 AM A new study from Juniper Research has found that memberships of loyalty programs with a digital element will increase from 37 billion in 2020 to 48 billion in 2023 globally.

The new research, Digital Loyalty Programmes: Market Trends, Credit Cards & Retailer Readiness 2020-2025, highlights that as economic challenges remain for both consumers and retailers, digital loyalty will become a prized differentiator as retail markets become increasingly commoditized. The study recommended that retailers adopt digital loyalty solutions that enable them to leverage their abundant customer data to offer omnichannel loyalty experiences; combining offline and online touchpoints. This is critical for ‘bricks-and-mortar’ retailers, which will struggle to recover from revenue lost during lockdowns and increased off-to-online spend migration.

The research also found that the total value of mobile coupons redeemed will grow from $51.6 billion in 2020 to $67.6 billion in 2023; driven by increasing QR and app coupon usage. QR coupons will continue to grow strongly in China as QR payments are dominant there, but QR coupon redemption in India and Africa will also grow three-to four-fold in the next five years as the appeal of QR widens.

Industries With the Highest Rate of Unemployment

By Staff
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 4:41 PM The national unemployment rate in the U.S. has fallen over the past two months from heights not seen since the Great Depression. Unemployment went down from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May, and it went down even further for June as employers invited their workers back to work as part of reopening measures across the country, according to a recent feature from Statista.com.

In June, the national unemployment rate fell from 13.3 percent to 11.2 percent. The leisure and hospitality industry gained the most jobs for the second straight month, with an unemployment rate falling again from 35 percent in May to 28 percent in June. 

Hotels and cruise lines, which have been forced to cut millions of jobs since March, are quickly creating reopening plans in line with city, state and federal plans. In May, Carnival Cruise Line announced some ships will return to business by August 1 but has since pushed back its start date into September. Transportation unemployment also fell dramatically in June, falling to just below 13 percent.

Retail is seeing a huge resurgence as the country moves into July. Stores are reopening their doors in most states, and consumers may be less reluctant to socially distance in a store rather than sit in a movie theater or restaurant.

New Report Shows a Robust, Diversified Health Innovation Market

By Staff
Monday, July 6, 2020 1:55 PM Total health innovation funding for the first half of 2020 hit $9.1B, up nearly 19 percent compared to the same period in 2019, according to a new report from StartupHealth.

The first quarter of 2020 began strong. With $4.9B raised, it was the most-funded quarter on record for health innovation.

But on January 11, China reported its first coronavirus death, and two months later the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic.

Survey Finds That Coronavirus Continues to Impact B2B Ecommerce Sector

By Staff
Wednesday, July 1, 2020 12:00 AM NEW YORK—Not surprisingly, COVID-19 continues to have a big impact on B2B ecommerce. This was among the findings of a new survey that included responses from about 1,000 B2B executives and consumers. The survey was organized by digital experience application developer Bloomreach Inc. and it was conducted by Forrester Research. The findings were reported by Digital Commerce 360.

According to the survey, 46 percent of companies are seeing a spike in digital sales. This growth is a direct consequence of increased online activity like volume of search, traffic and orders. Among respondents, 22 percent said they have seen no impact from the coronavirus pandemic, and 6 percent said their “business is seeing unprecedented growth.”

In addition, 56 percent of B2B customers said they would pay more for a better experience, and they will not buy from the same business again if they have a bad experience.

Many B2B companies also expressed their intention to increase their investment/budget in various ecommerce activities over the next 12 months. These areas include eCommerce site (64 percent), apps (64 percent), social media (58 percent), third-party marketplaces (52 percent), and wholesale distribution (46 percent).

Datafeed for 7-6-20

By Staff
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 1:11 PM

How COVID-19 Is Impacting Boomers’ Shopping Behavior

By Staff
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 9:14 AM The coronavirus pandemic has forced consumers to adapt many aspects of their lives, from daily routines to how they safeguard themselves and their families. Even as many communities look to reopen, it is likely that the pandemic will continue to impact how consumers of all ages socialize and shop. This is particularly true for baby boomers, those ages roughly 56 to 74. New data from NRF’s Spring Consumer View study shows key ways the pandemic has shifted this demographic’s priorities and what it means for their interactions with brands and retailers.

Stay-at home mandates and social distancing requirements mean boomers have moved more of their lives online. Nearly half (45 percent) say they’re shopping online more as a result of the pandemic, which is significant given that the vast majority (82 percent) typically make less than half of their purchases online. 

Certain categories have seen more of a shift to online, especially items that can help relieve boredom during a lockdown. Even Fido and Felix are getting spoiled—pet supplies, toys and books and other media are the products where more boomers have shifted their purchasing habits the most, with more buying mostly or entirely online as a direct result of COVID-19.

It’s not just online shopping that has grown. Buy online, pick up in store has become increasingly popular during COVID-19, and boomers haven’t shied away from it. Over six in 10 are aware of BOPIS—more than any of their younger counterparts. Two-thirds have tried BOPIS; of those, 63 percent said it improved their overall shopping experience.

Forecast Shows Google’s 2020 Advertising Revenues Declining for First Time

By Staff
Friday, June 26, 2020 4:08 PM NEW YORK—In a time when little is as it used to be, this is still quite a surprise: eMarketer now estimates that, for the first time since it began estimating ad revenues at Google, the search giant’s net U.S. digital ad revenues will decline in absolute terms this year. Facebook and Amazon will continue to grow their advertising revenues, but at “severely depressed rates compared with earlier expectations,” eMarketer added in its recent updated advertising forecast.

Still, the three companies’ size in the advertising market this year will be similar to what it was in 2019 — increasing by $1.69 billion — but with a somewhat different internal breakdown. (Google’s advertising decline is due to “a sharp pullback in travel advertiser spending,” according to eMarketer’s forecast.)

“By the end of 2020, Google’s net U.S. digital ad revenues will drop 5.3 percent to $39.58 billion,” eMarketer noted in a recent analysis. “That brings Google’s share of the U.S. digital ad market to 29.4 percent, down from 31.6 percent last year. Our Q1 2020 forecast (which did not account for a global pandemic) predicted Google’s U.S. ad revenues would grow 12.9 percent, but its market share would still shrink slightly.”

Nicole Perrin, eMarketer’s principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, noted that Google has been growing its net U.S. ad revenues at a slower rate than the overall digital ad market since 2016. “So, this year will continue a trend of Google losing digital ad market share in the U.S.,” she added.

According to eMarketer, despite downward revisions to forecasted growth, Facebook and Amazon will increase their net U.S. ad revenues this year, while the total digital ad market grows slightly by 1.7 percent.

Jobless Claims Gradually Decline, But 20+ Million Still Out of Work

By Staff
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 1:55 PM According to the latest unemployment data released by the Department of Labor on June 18, the number of Americans newly applying for unemployment benefits decreased to 1,508,000 in the week ending June 13. While the latest drop in initial claims marks the 11th consecutive week of declines, the number of weekly unemployment claims is still historically high.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly claims had peaked at 695,000 in the fall of 1982, putting this week’s “positive” news in perspective. As this chart from Statista.com shows, weekly unemployment claims have trended downwards since hitting 6.9 million in late March, but remain far above the levels seen before the pandemic hit.

Headphone and Earbud Purchases Hit Record Levels, CTA Reports

By Staff
Monday, June 22, 2020 10:21 AM Fielded June 12 to 14, 2020, the Bi-Weekly Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Tech Tracker, now fielded every other week, monitors U.S. household use and purchases of tech including online services and devices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CTA reported these key findings for Wave 11 of the survey:

Purchases of headphones and earbuds reached an all-time high, 21 percent of U.S. households, up four percentage points from the last wave fielded May 29 to 31.

7 in 10 Black Americans Say They Have Experienced Incidents of Discrimination or Police Mistreatment in Their Lifetime

By Staff
Thursday, June 18, 2020 5:44 PM Amid weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd that have drawn national attention to issues of institutional racism and police violence, the latest KFF Health Tracking Poll finds that 7 in 10 Black adults say they have experienced serious incidents of discrimination in their lifetime. This includes half who say they have felt their life was in danger because of their race or ethnicity, and about 1 in 5 (rising to 30 percent of Black men) who say they have been a victim of police violence. 

When asked about more specific experiences of discrimination or violence due to their race or ethnicity, the disparities are no less stark. About half of Black adults (48 percent), including 60 percent of Black men and 38 percent of Black women, say they have ever been afraid their life was in danger because of their race. This compares to about a quarter (26 percent) of Hispanic adults and 16 percent of White adults. 

Black adults are also much more likely than Hispanic or White adults to say they have been denied a job for which they were qualified (40 percent, 15 percent, and 8 percent, respectively) or denied housing they could afford due to their race (26 percent, 8 percent, and 3 percent, respectively).

U.S. Retail Sales Rebound After Historic Slump

By Staff
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 3:58 PM Following an unprecedented plunge in April, U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in May, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday. Total retail and food services sales amounted to $485.5 billion in May, up 17.7 percent from the previous month, but still 6.1 percent below last year's May figure. 

Due to the widespread lockdown instated to contain the spread of COVID-19, retail sales had plunged 14.7 percent in April, following an already unprecedented 8.2 percent drop in March. To put this in perspective, the highest drop prior to March 2020 had occurred in November 2008, when retail sales declined by less than 4 percent at the height of the financial crisis. As the following chart shows, retail sales have very rarely dipped significantly in the past, with the financial crisis being the most notable exception of the past three decades.

The May rebound was led by those stores hit hardest by the shutdown in the first place, with clothing store sales up 188 percent over April and other specialty stores also seeing high double digit increases in sales.

Click here to read the full story from Statista.com.

Integrated Fitness Clothing Set to Eclipse Fitness Wearables

By Staff
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 1:55 PM In a newly published whitepaper, “Flatline—How Healthy Is The Fitness Wearables Market?” Juniper Research observes that fitness wearables no longer have the same level of novelty for consumers as they once did. As Juniper points out, “Nowadays there are numerous types of wristband competing for market share, with newer features and metric analysis the benchmark for a successful device. As fitness wearables have become more mainstream, brand recognition has gained more weight. The market is no longer new terrain where an innovative start-up can quickly gain market share; the established players dictate the development of the industry to a greater extent.