The pandemic has turned everybody into a homebody.
Home-focused products are now must-haves as consumers look for items that can make home life more comfortable and lively. Against the backdrop of financial uncertainty, many shoppers are also becoming more price-sensitive as they snap up these comfort-oriented goods.
As you think about stock planning in the new year, it’s important to understand how our new reality of forced nesting is affecting your customers. To give you some insight into what you might want to carry to meet this new homebody consumer, we combed through Square data* to identify the comfort items shoppers are buying more of since the pandemic started, compared to the same time last year.
We’ve divided this list of trending products into three retail categories that are experiencing surging demand: Home goods, apparel, and beauty and wellness products. Use it as a blueprint to help you plan your inventory for the new year, while also offering your customers the relief they need.
* Square’s data is based on sales metrics from March through October of 2019 and 2020. We analyzed thousands of transactions to identify the comfort items that are increasing and declining in sales this year, compared to last year.
Shoppers are stocking up on nesting supplies that can help them turn their homes into an oasis, whether it’s augmenting an existing layout or an empty wall. Here are a few of the household products that are helping shoppers create a soothing atmosphere using the space they already have.
What to carry
- Decor: Our research found that candle sales experienced a sharp uptick in sales, up 36X since last year. Candleholders also saw a 52 percent rise in sales. Plants and wall hangings are other ways people are freshening up their homes, with sales up 59 and 11 percent, respectively.
- Home fragrances: Scents can transform a space and transport us to somewhere new. Sales of home fragrances, which are used in a variety of spray and diffuser products, have climbed 54 percent. Diffuser oil in particular has seen an increase in sales, up 26 percent since last year.
- Bed and bath linens: Plush linens are another hot commodity this year, with bedding and bath towel sales up 125 and 112 percent, respectively. This may be connected to people paying more attention to the cleanliness of their sheets because of COVID-19, forcing some to upgrade their linens entirely.
- Specialty blankets: Weighted blankets are having a moment as people look for ways to naturally reduce anxiety, with sales up 6X. Throw blankets and blankets in general are also surging, up 25 and 16 percent, respectively.
It’s important to pay attention to the mix of price points you carry, which is particularly helpful if you carry products for the home. “Smaller-priced things are selling more than the big items,” said Julie Mitchell, the owner of purpose-driven gift shop Fig + Oak, located in Ashland, Ohio. “I also tried to order items within a lower price point to stay thrifty,” said Mitchell.
Offering a larger selection of lower-ticket items that are easy to ship, like candles and fragrances, could be more relevant to people as the pandemic presses on.
Customer demand for comfortable clothes is increasing in a big way. Sales for loungewear items are up 13X compared to last year, athleisure is up 3X, and items marked “cozy” are up nine percent. You may want to consider adding these terms to your product descriptions to increase the odds that consumers will find and connect with what you’re selling.
What to carry
- Sweatshirts and sweatpants: Sweatshirt sales have soared 10X, and cozy sweaters 3X. Sweaters in general are down five percent, which may suggest that consumers are opting for more comfortable tops and are using those terms to identify items that might be a match. Sweatpants are up four percent since last year, which isn’t as large of a jump as sweatshirts, although it could be attributed to consumers spending money on stretchier pants instead.
- Stretch pants: Interestingly, shoppers may be thinking about stretchy lounge pants differently now. Sales for stretch pants are up 5X, yet leggings are down 24 percent and yoga pants are down 29 percent. This may be connected to the fact that many gyms and fitness studios are closed for in-person instruction, leading consumers to look for a similar type of tight-fitting pant, but in a different setting. If you sell stretchy pants, you may want to make sure that the term “stretch pants” is included in your product description this year.
- Athleisure: Joggers, which are a looser type of athletic pant with a tapered cuff at the ankle, have seen sales rise 32 percent since last year. Joggers may be another comfortable alternative to pants for consumers who are spending more time at home.
- Pajamas: Pajamas don’t always have to be worn at night. Nightgown sales are up 71 percent since last year, and pajama sales have increased 43 percent since last year at the same time. You may also want to look into carrying matching pajamas for the family and pet pajamas to take advantage of this trend.
The apparel items that aren’t selling well? Button-up and button-down shirts are down 30 and 39 percent, respectively. (Button-down shirts have more buttons around the collar than button-ups do.) Take a look at your top sellers over the last few months so you can prioritize the types of apparel that are right for customers in this moment.
At-home beauty and wellness products
Consumers are splurging more on at-home self-care products with two themes emerging from our data: familiar scents are back and cleansing products are trending. Since spas and salons may not be open, and consumers may not feel comfortable returning to them, these products are helping customers replace those experiences.
What to carry
- Cleansing products: As we continue to invest in personal hygiene, that same focus is merging into personal care rituals. Sales for body washes are up 9X, while bar soap sales are up 95 percent, including lavender, honey, peppermint, and lemongrass scents. Body scrub sales have risen 43 percent, and face wash is up 37 percent.
- Moisturizing products: Moisturizers nourish the skin, which can be an extremely comforting step in a beauty care routine. Body cream sales are up 14 percent, and lavender in particular is a popular scent right now, with lavender body cream sales up 81X.
- Novelty products: Novelty items like bath bombs and sponges that come in different shapes may be something to consider adding to your product catalog as shoppers are looking for more diversions. Bath bomb sales have gone up three percent since last year.
- Nail care: Nail polish sales have climbed 25 percent, potentially due to consumers not heading back to salons yet because of recent stay-at-home orders, or cutting back on their visits. Consider offering kits to help shoppers who may be used to picking from a variety of colors at salons, or to replicate other beauty and wellness services you may offer.
Packaging your homebody products
To spur sales, consider curating gift baskets for your customers. “We sent out a lot of cute care packages for people,” Mitchell said. “It started when someone from the local hospital asked me to create some for their coworkers, so we put together essential oil and jewelry, bath bombs and candles, aromatherapy and necklaces, all pampering stuff. We put them in gift boxes to create that experience. I also had a lot of grandparents shipping boredom boxes to their grandchildren.”
As we continue to stay home, our buying habits have changed. And that means your product mix might need to look different, too. Use this list of trending comfort products to help you differentiate your lineup so you can stay one step ahead — even if you and your customers aren’t going anywhere.