Home Series
Consumers Spend Where They Spend Time
Our “Spotlight on Home” series examines specific trends within several “home” subcategories so that retailers and customers can be prepared for the upcoming fall and winter shopping seasons.
We are seeing parallels to last year’s pandemic shopping behaviour, when purchases more than doubled for key products to help maintain health and stay entertained at home. Social distancing habits through the past three waves will likely continue through the fourth, and engagement with curbside pickup services looks steady among consumers. It’s clear Canadians spend where they spend time: from the comfort and safety of home
October 2021
Lather, Rinse, Repeat: A Focus on Home Health
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Consumer spending on home-related categories during the upcoming fall and winter season may repeat 2020 trends, as shoppers are motivated by the desire to make a home sanctuary where they feel comfortable and secure.

One of the top home spending categories is health maintenance. This includes everything from hygiene products to health electronics, such as filtration systems or digital thermometers. As kids head back to school, we can expect customers to invest in the everyday essentials, like hand sanitizer and face masks, that will keep their children, families, and homes healthy and safe.

Trends to watch
Several consumer preferences that emerged with the pandemic in 2020 remain with us. People are still social distancing, and easy reorder and curbside delivery remain as popular as ever. These services have seen average month-over-month growth of 11% since January 2019, and over 70% growth during the months Canadians spent at home last year. As consumers step back from public spaces, ensuring seamless digital and omnichannel experiences will allow them to remain loyal customers.

The top priority for shoppers buying cleaning and health maintenance essentials is low prices, with 36% of those surveyed calling this the most critical factor. The second-highest priority is access to a wide variety of products at one store, which 22% identify as the top factor. Throughout the pandemic, masks, hand sanitizer, and other sanitation products have been the most popular health maintenance purchases—and multiple brands compete for top ranking, indicating more options on the shelf could lead to higher sales.

Data from Walmart and consumer surveys demonstrates that customers appreciate one-stop shopping, both in-store and online. Seamless digital experiences remain high on their list as well, and studies show that 44% of shoppers become repeat buyers as a result of personalized experiences.

In the grocery category, which includes everyday health and home care essentials, online orders have held strong long after their pandemic-fuelled surge in 2020. For customers with high engagement rates, growth was over 200% in 2020, and it is still over 100% in 2021. Customers have also embraced easy reorders of the essentials they run out of regularly.

Spending more time at home means spending more budget on the home. When safety and cleanliness are top-of-mind for many, retailers need to make sure they’re well-stocked in the health maintenance solutions that shoppers rely on, and brands should clearly communicate the availability and value they offer with their products.

    Top takeaways
  • Masks and hand sanitizer are among the most popular health-related purchases.
  • Customers have embraced easy reorder for the essentials they run out of regularly.
  • The top priority for shoppers buying cleaning and health maintenance essentials is low prices.
October 2021
Home Is Where the Cart Is: Creating a Safe Haven for Holidays
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During the cozy seasons to come, customers could be embracing home furnishings and entertainment as top purchases once again. Decor brightens living spaces inside and out, while electronics such as audio-visual systems and video games provide activities to enjoy together. These entertainment products may fill holiday carts this year as consumers select more gifts for the home, from the home. Sales of electronics products, in particular, have consistently doubled 2019’s sales per month since March 2020.

Trends to watch
Since many social gatherings have moved out of public spaces and into private gardens and patios, consumers have spent accordingly. Online orders for patio furniture have increased 73% in 2021 compared to 2020. More spending is also taking place in the off-season—sales of outdoor furnishings grew 94%, 91%, and 71% across February, March, and April—and it’s possible this trend will re-emerge through fall.

Last year, consumers took solace in the knowledge that Walmart was a safe place to shop in person, but they also came to appreciate the convenience of online shopping. Pre-Cyber Week online sales saw the greatest YoY increase at Walmart from 2019 to 2020, at 83%. Looking more broadly, 56% of Canadians shopped on Black Friday and 47% of all purchases were for holiday gifts, with electronics topping many wish lists. In addition, 45% of all digital holiday spending was done by the end of Cyber Week.

Many retailers invested in their online offerings as a result of the pandemic in 2020, and those investments may pay off big time as omnichannel shoppers come back for more in 2021. As of June 2021, 31% of US and 20% of Canadian survey respondents had already started their holiday shopping through both physical and digital shopping channels.

In 2020, free delivery was the most powerful incentive driving purchases across all markets. If buyers continue to shop remotely—as they have so far this year—this will likely remain true in fall 2021.

Online shopping is key—but customers still showed up in-person to take full-advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Week sales last year. At Walmart, there was an average spend of $328 across 2.9 trips.

Providing a one-stop shopping experience for home subcategories like furniture, decor and electronics is critical for brands and retailers looking to ensure stability in times of uncertainty—and to re-create the success of last year’s fall and winter season.

    Top takeaways
  • Spending time at home during 2020 and 2021 inspired consumers to invest more in their living spaces.
  • Electronics sales have seen exponential growth since March 2020.
  • Sales of outdoor furnishings jumped significantly in the shoulder seasons, with parallel trends expected this fall.
November 2021
Retail Therapy: Emphasizing Physical and Emotional Wellness in Uncertain Times
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We all need to take care—and in trying times like these, we need to give care, too. After all, the mental health costs of the COVID-19 pandemic can be just as acute as the physical ones.

Personal care subcategories like hair, beauty, and relaxation products are all about restoring balance, sparking joy, and enabling people to feel their best. These products also make great gifts—an important consideration in the autumn and winter shopping seasons.

Trends to watch
Pandemic conditions have encouraged consumers to take an increasingly holistic view of wellness, leading them to invest in products for body, mind, and spirit as part of the rising “radical self-care” trend taken up by 79% of Canadians during 2020. This is likely to hold strong, as 98% intend to continue self-care routines post-pandemic.

Online demand for personal care products surged in the fall and winter seasons of 2020—and influencer marketing could be part of the picture for the 49% of Millennials and Gen Z who follow influencers, the 88% who discover brands on social, and the 56% who have been influenced by a post to make a purchase. Social media influencers produced 39% more skincare content and received 164% higher engagements in 2020 over 2019, catering to younger adults whose self-care purchases nearly double the spend of ages 55+.

Ecommerce traffic and sales for makeup grew 60% YoY compared to 2019, while personal care sub-categories such as fragrance, bath, and body care showed some of the greatest sales growth of the pre-holiday season. However, for key consumer audiences in this category, omni is an essential: over 30% of Millennials and nearly 50% of Gen Z engage both in-store and online before purchasing through either channel.

Comparing 2019 and 2020, pre-Cyber Week sales revenue for this category grew 80% YoY. However, spending on self-care dropped during the 2020 holiday season and resumed shortly afterwards. This suggests that customers invested more money in self-care during Cyber Week and Boxing Week sales, but during the holidays, they focused their attention on others.

As more personal care shopping and spending moves online, it presents an opportunity for brands and retailers to connect consumers with products that can help get them through the tough times. As more brands are investing in a digital presence to meet shoppers where they are, they are also creating opportunities to connect consumers with the products that can help boost their energy and self-esteem.

Google registers 1 billion shopping moments per day, globally. Make these moments meaningful with omnichannel experiences that empower customers to browse and purchase the products they need, on the channels they prefer.

    Top takeaways
  • In 2020, ecommerce traffic and sales for makeup more than doubled compared to 2019.
  • Personal care sub-categories such as fragrance, bath, and body care show greatest sales growth during the pre-holiday season.
  • Omni is essential for key consumer audiences in this channel: over 30% of Millennials and nearly 50% of Gen Z engage both in-store and online before purchasing through either channel.
December 2021
The Staying Power of DIY: Personal Projects for Pandemic Resilience
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If Canadian consumers opt to spend more time at home this fall and winter, they may pick up the tasks, projects and hobbies that they have been saving for a rainy day. When the pandemic forced millions of Canadians to work remotely in 2020, many finally found the time to dig into home improvement projects—not only working from the home, but also working on the home.

The DIY category, which includes crafts, tools, home improvement, and home organization products, saw increases driven by stay-at-home mandates as a result of the pandemic in 2020, and we could see similar growth through the remainder of 2021.

Trends to watch
The potential growth of DIY in fall and winter 2021 will depend on how much COVID-19 disrupts life outside the home, and how personal hobbies and interests have evolved for consumers. If schools and offices need to close to contain rising case counts, kids may resume virtual learning, requiring parents to also spend more time at home. Likewise, professionals may continue working remotely as many offices both large and small remain at least partially closed to employees.

Office essentials like writing tools, desk organizers and drawer dividers are among the most popular home office supplies for DIY shoppers, as well as staples like glue, tape and—well, staples. As remote working circumstances persist indefinitely, many shoppers may now be making more permanent investments in a comfortable and productive home office environment.

A hobby or home improvement project is a great way to stay physically active and mentally focused, and investing in equipment, whether power tools or watercolour paints, sets consumers up to stay occupied with enjoyable activities. Tool sales spiked 45% in April 2020, when consumers were making space for offices in their homes or tackling other home renovations. Sales started rising again in August, indicating that the spring and fall seasons are popular times of year for DIY projects.

If home-based personal projects begin trending again, Cyber Week sales could be a great opportunity for media buyers to showcase DIY subcategories, while consumers are still shopping for themselves. Once the Cyber Week window has closed, buyers can shift their focus to holiday shopping targets with the knowledge that DIY products also make popular gifts.

The Cyber Week and holiday season already promise growth in shopping and spending across multiple categories. Now is a good time for brands and retailers to optimize marketing and merchandising in DIY subcategories, as consumers look for new projects or pastimes to tackle at home.

    Top takeaways
  • If parents and kids stay home from work and school due to COVID-19 restrictions, they could spend more on DIY to adapt their environments.
  • The continuing relevance of remote work may encourage consumers to invest more dollars into permanent home offices.
  • Cyber Week presents an opportune time to reach DIY customers who are taking care of their needs and their homes before shifting attention to others for holiday shopping.
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