The Fastest Growing and Declining E-Commerce Categories
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on every aspect of life, including how people shop for their necessities, and their not-so-necessities.
With online retail sales estimated to reach an eye-watering $6.5 trillion by 2023, the ecommerce sector was already booming. But since the outbreak, online shopping has been catapulted into complete overdrive. Even the largest retailers on the planet are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented consumer demand—but what exactly are people buying?
To answer this question, retail intelligence firm Stackline analyzed ecommerce sales across the U.S. and compiled a list of the fastest growing and declining ecommerce categories (March 2020 vs. March 2019) with surprising results.
The Frenzy of Buyer Behavior
As people come to terms with their new living situations, their buying behavior has adapted to suit their needs. While panic buying may have slowed in some countries, consumers continue to stock up on supplies, or “pandemic pantry products”.
Many consumers are also using their newfound time to focus on their health, with 85% of consumers taking up some kind of exercise while in social isolation, and 40% of them saying they intend to keep it up when restrictions are lifted.
These changing behaviors have resulted in a number of product categories experiencing a surge in demand — and although a lot of them are practical, others are wonderfully weird.
The Fastest Growing Categories
While the below list features several shelf-stable items, it seems as though consumers are taking matters into their own hands, with bread making machines sitting in second place and retailers selling out of their top models.
It’s clear from the list that consumers are considering positive changes to their lifestyle while in isolation, as fitness, smoking cessation, and respiratory categories are all experiencing growth.
Explore the 100 fastest growing product categories below:
|Rank||Category||% Change in March (2020 vs. 2019)|
|#3||Cough & Cold||535%|
|#5||Dried Grains & Rice||386%|
|#9||Milk & Cream||279%|
|#12||Hand Soap & Sanitizer||262%|
|#23||Soap & Body Wash||194%|
|#25||Jerky & Dried Meats||187%|
|#26||Chips & Pretzels||186%|
|#33||Nut & Seed Butters||163%|
|#36||Baby Care Products||162%|
|#46||Digestion & Nausea||144%|
|#51||Incontinence & Tummy||129%|
|#54||Training Pads and Trays||125%|
|#57||Dried Fruit & Raisins||120%|
|#58||Salt & Pepper Seasoning||118%|
|#59||Craft Kits & Projects||117%|
|#62||Nuts & Seeds||116%|
|#64||Sauce & Gravy||115%|
|#67||Breads & Bakery||114%|
|#76||Jams, Jellies & Spreads||102%|
|#78||Spices & Seasoning||100%|
|#83||Granola & Nutrition Bars||97%|
|#84||Pudding & Gelatin||97%|
|#85||Toy Clay & Dough||95%|
|#87||Bird Food & Treats||91%|
|#88||Lab & Science Products||90%|
|#89||Eczema & Psoriasis||90%|
|#96||Potty Training Supplies||82%|
|#97||Herbs, Spices & Seasonings||82%|
|#98||Keyboard & Mice||80%|
Interestingly, toilet paper has seen more growth than baby care products, and cured meats have seen more growth than water. But while some categories are experiencing a drastic increase in demand, others are slumping in the pandemic economy.
The Fastest Declining Categories
An unprecedented wave of event and vacation cancellations is having a huge impact on the products people consume. For instance, luggage and suitcases, cameras, and men’s swimwear have all seen a dip in sales.
See the full list of 100 fastest declining categories below:
|Rank||Category||% Change in March (2020 vs. 2019)|
|#1||Luggage & Suitcases||-77%|
|#6||Men's Formal Wear||-62%|
|#9||Boy’s Athletic Shoes||-59%|
|#15||Event & Party Supplies||-55%|
|#16||Motorcycle Protective Gear||-55%|
|#17||Camera Bags & Cases||-54%|
|#18||Women’s Suits & Dresses||-53%|
|#23||Boy's Active Clothing||-50%|
|#25||Store Fixtures & Displays||-50%|
|#28||Watches & Accessories||-49%|
|#29||Cargo Bed Covers||-48%|
|#30||Track & Field Equipment||-48%|
|#33||Girl’s Coats and Jackets||-47%|
|#34||Women’s Hats & Caps||-47%|
|#37||Wheels & Tires||-46%|
|#40||Shocks & Struts||-44%|
|#41||Transmission & Parts||-44%|
|#42||Girl’s Athletic Shoes||-44%|
|#45||Sunglasses & Eyeglasses||-43%|
|#48||Men’s Athletic Shoes||-40%|
|#54||Baby Girl’s Shoes||-39%|
|#61||Tool Storage & Organizers||-38%|
|#64||Men’s Hats & Caps||-37%|
|#70||Bar & Wine Tools||-35%|
|#71||Glassware & Drinkware||-35%|
|#74||Home Bar Furniture||-34%|
|#75||Office Storage Supplies||-34%|
|#76||Girl's Active Clothing||-34%|
|#78||Braces, Splints & Supports||-34%|
|#81||Blankets & Quilts||-33%|
|#82||Women's Athletic Shoes||-33%|
|#86||GPS & Navigation||-32%|
|#97||Sanders & Grinders||-30%|
|#99||Living Room Furniture||-29%|
|#100||Climbing & Hiking Bags||-28%|
Regardless of which list a product falls under, it is clear that the pandemic has impacted retailers of every kind in both positive and negative ways.
The New Normal?
Officially the world’s largest retailer, Amazon has announced it can no longer keep up with consumer demand. As a result, it will be delaying the delivery of non-essential items, or in some cases not taking orders for non-essentials at all.
This presents a double-edged sword, as the new dynamic that is bringing some retailers unprecedented demand could also bring about an untimely end for others.
Meanwhile, the question remains: will this drastic change in consumer behavior stabilize once we flatten the curve, or is this our new normal?
Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?
BEACH stocks—bookings, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were pulverized at the beginning of the pandemic. Here’s how they’ve bounced back.
Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?
The travel and entertainment industries have had a volatile ride over the last year.
During the initial stages of the pandemic, when panic and uncertainty ran rife, BEACH stocks–booking, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were left scrambling. Collectively, $332 billion in market cap washed away.
Now, it appears the tide might be turning for these companies, buoyed by vaccine breakthroughs and glimmers of hope for a return to normalcy.
This infographic looks at the growth in market cap value across BEACH stocks one year from when the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Washing Back to Shore?
BEACH stocks have gained a collective $376 billion in market cap in the year since the pandemic was declared, with about half the companies trading at their respective all-time highs.
In fact, about 70% of BEACH stocks have actually outperformed the S&P 500, which returned 43.7% during the same period.
|Company||Ticker||Category||Market Cap: 03/11/20 ($B)||Market Cap: 03/11/21 ($B)||Change|
|Alaska Air Group||ALK||Airlines||5.7||8.1||42%|
|Delta Air Lines||DAL||Airlines||29.1||30.9||6%|
|Caesars Entertainment||CZR||Casino & Hotel||2.2||20.8||824%|
|Norwegian Cruise Lines||NCLH||Cruise & Casino||4.3||10.9||151%|
|Royal Caribbean Cruises||RCL||Cruise & Casino||10.8||22.4||108%|
|Carnival||CCL||Cruise & Casino||16.4||31.8||93%|
|Penn National Gaming||PENN||Entertainment & Live Events||2.6||20.4||661%|
|Six Flags||SIX||Entertainment & Live Events||1.7||4.1||142%|
|Live Nation||LYV||Entertainment & Live Events||10.8||19.3||79%|
|The Walt Disney Co||DIS||Entertainment & Live Events||201.2||357.1||77%|
|Cedar Fair||FUN||Entertainment & Live Events||1.8||2.8||57%|
|Choice Hotels International||CHH||Hotels||4.5||5.9||30%|
|Marriott Vacations Worldwide||VAC||Hotels & Resorts||3.8||7.7||103%|
|Vail Resorts||MTN||Hotels & Resorts||7.1||13.4||88%|
|Park Hotels & Resorts||PK||Hotels & Resorts||3.4||5.3||58%|
|Wyndham Hotels & Resorts||WH||Hotels & Resorts||4.2||6.4||51%|
|MGM Resorts International||MGM||Resorts & Casino||10.2||19.3||89%|
|Wynn Resorts||WYNN||Resorts & Casino||9.7||15.9||64%|
|Las Vegas Sands||LVS||Resorts & Casino||40.7||48.2||18%|
BEACH Stocks Leaders and Laggards
When dissecting this basket of stocks by industry, it’s clear that much of the recovery story is lopsided. One reason for this, despite the pandemic, is that there are more granular, idiosyncratic trends occurring within these sectors.
Let’s look at what’s propelling the leaders, and dragging down the laggards:
Leading: Online Betting
There’s reason to be bullish on gambling stocks. Since late 2018, some 20 states have legalized sports betting, with more expecting to follow. Relative to other areas, the pandemic has been kind to gambling stocks. Many of those with an online presence have witnessed a spike in traffic, as more people continue to flock towards online betting.
Within the BEACH stocks basket, Penn National Gaming and Caesars Entertainment are clear outliers, having grown an epic 661% and 823% respectively. In addition, the broader industry (measured by the BETZ ETF) has nearly doubled the performance of the S&P 500 since its inception.
The return to normalcy will be much more delayed for airlines. Global RPKs, an industry metric, are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Actions of insiders also seem to match this negative sentiment. Warren Buffett, once a staunch supporter of airlines, decided to call it quits during the pandemic—dumping his entire position.
U.S. airline executives have collectively been selling their stakes much more aggressively than in the last few years. To add insult to injury, there’s significant shorting of airline stocks as well. At a short interest of 11.6%, American Airlines is most heavily shorted BEACH stock.
In a year where social interactions and gatherings have largely disappeared, so too has much of the business activity for hotels. For instance, Hilton sales suffered a 58% decline year-over-year.
But even without the pandemic, the hotel industry had their work cut out for them, through a growing and formidable competitor in Airbnb. Airbnb can scale its network beyond what any hotel can. This is evident in its room count, which is greater than the largest hotels combined.
More Bumps On The Road Ahead?
The investing landscape today looks to be disconnected from reality, in part because of the forward-looking nature of markets. Even though things are dire today, there’s a belief that light exists at the end of the tunnel.
But the path to recovery isn’t quite so linear. When the dust settles, it’ll become more apparent which industries will “return to normal” and which have set out permanently on a new trajectory.
Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities
Where do the most billionaires live? For years, NYC has topped the list of billionaire cities, but 2020 marked a monumental shift.
Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities in 2020
In 2020, the world gained 493 new billionaires—that’s one every 17 hours.
For the last seven years, New York City has been home to more billionaires than any other city in the world. However, last year marked a monumental shift in the status quo.
Beijing has unseated the Big Apple, and is now home to 100 billionaires. That’s one more billionaire than the 99 living in New York City.
Today’s map uses data from Forbes to display the top 10 cities that house the most billionaires.
Where do the Most Billionaires Live?
The richest of the rich are quite concentrated in cities, but some cities seem to best suit the billionaire lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 billionaire capitals and the collective net worth of all the ultra wealthy that live there.
|Rank||City||Region||Number of Billionaires||Net Worth of the City's Billionaires|
|#2||New York City||🇺🇸 North America||99||$560.5B|
|#3||Hong Kong||🇨🇳 Asia||80||$448.4B|
|#9||San Fransisco||🇺🇸 North America||48||$190.0B|
Some cities have some obvious billionaires that come to mind. New York’s richest person and former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is worth $59 billion. Beijing’s richest billionaire is the founder of TikTok (among other things), Zhang Yiming with a net worth of $35.6 billion.
In terms of the locations themselves, London, New York, and San Francisco are the only Western cities to make the list. Though New York was ousted from the top position last year, altogether the city’s billionaires are still worth more than Beijing’s.
One new city to make the top 10 list of billionaire cities was Hangzhou, the home of Jack Ma. It booted out Singapore from the 10th spot.
East Meets West
More than half of the top 10 cities are located in Asia, providing evidence of the shift eastwards when it comes to seats of wealth. Five of the six Asian cities listed are all in China.
What’s helped lead to this?
The country has seen an e-commerce boom, not in the least thanks to the pandemic. Additionally, the efficient handling of COVID-19 has allowed the economy to get back on track much more quickly than other countries. According to the BBC, 50% of China’s new billionaires have made their wealth either through tech or manufacturing.
Four of the Chinese cities on the list also had the biggest billionaire growth in 2020. Each of them gained more than 10 net new billionaires:
- 🇨🇳 Hangzhou: 21
- 🇨🇳 Shanghai: 18
- 🇨🇳 Shenzhen: 24
- 🇨🇳 Beijing: 33
The only other city to gain more than 10 new billionaires in 2020 was San Francisco with 11.
Now sitting at 698 billionaires, China is coming up on the 724 held by the United States. Beijing overtaking NYC could be the beginning of a larger tipping point.
Asia-Pacific’s collective 1,149 billionaires are worth $4.7 trillion, while U.S. billionaires are worth $4.4 trillion in total wealth.
Overall, it looks like the wealth tides may be turning as China continues to progress economically and more billionaires become based in the East over the West.
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