Nearly two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world and had rippling effects on global labor and commerce that we’re still experiencing today. It’s too soon to know which changes are permanent and which are temporary, but one thing’s for sure: Businesses and consumers will still feel the impact of COVID-19 throughout 2022.
One of the biggest changes came from early furloughs and quarantines in the United States. In early 2020, many people lost income and made significant lifestyle adjustments. Even those who were lucky enough to maintain employment had to modify their lifestyles to comply with local ordinances for the sake of public health.
Shelter-at-home orders had some surprising positive effects: people started spending more time with their families and reconnecting with old friends online. Some people reevaluated their goals and made drastic career changes. Some even moved across the country.
One central question that business owners are are asking in 2022 is: “Has the American home forever changed?”
Consumers have adjusted to spending more time at home
Since early 2020, many white-collar workers have transitioned to working from home either part-time or full-time, and many individuals have left traditional employment for freelancing. As time goes on, even more people express intentions to transition from commuting to working from home.
In addition to working from home, homeschooling is on the rise. The number of households homeschooling their children has doubled throughout the pandemic. Some families prefer to avoid the health risks of sending unvaccinated children to public schools where masks are often optional. Others made the switch out of necessity in early 2020 and found that they preferred homeschooling to public school.
Spending more time at home has had positive results for many Americans, but there have also been a few downsides. As people have spent more time inside their homes, many have reported increased feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation.
With the discovery of new COVID-19 variants, many consumers will likely continue to spend more time at home in 2022 than they did before the pandemic.
Consumers are buying more homes
Despite a raging pandemic and a global recession, Americans have opted into homeownership at a startlingly high rate over the past two years. 2020 saw the largest boom in homeownership since 2004, with a notably higher increase among households below the median family income than those above.
The surge in demand for homes may be partially attributed to many Americans’ decision to relocate after transitioning to working and schooling from home. Some moved out of cities to save money on living expenses—others moved into cities to pursue new opportunities. Some young people moved to be closer to their families. Others saw the pandemic as an opportunity to retire, and they downsized their lifestyle as they transitioned out of the workforce.
Research suggests that, due to low inventory, high inflation, and continued economic instability, demand for homes will remain high in 2022.
Consumers are investing in their homes as their needs change
Many Americans who didn’t purchase new homes invested time and money into updating their current living spaces. As families adjusted to working and schooling from home, they found themselves with new needs for privacy to focus, take meetings, and finish work without interruptions. Also, many Americans used the extra time they had during early quarantines to upgrade their homes with smooth, sanitizable surfaces and air filtration equipment.
This trend will likely continue into 2022 as more workers transition to working from home and more people buy new houses and make plans to modify them.
Consumers are more price-sensitive, but they’re still spending
The pandemic came with many early economic shocks, making many Americans tighten their budgets. At the same time, travel bans and shelter-at-home orders left many people with lots of time—and spare cash—on their hands. The result is that consumer spending has remained high through the pandemic, even as consumers scour the internet for the best deals.
In an economy facing high inflation, supply chain difficulties, climate disasters, an ongoing pandemic, consumers will likely remain price-sensitive throughout 2022.
Consumers are spending more time on hobbies and leisure
When quarantines and furloughs hit in 2020, many Americans used their spare time to find new hobbies and reconnect with old ones. Americans watched more television, read more news, and engaged in more pursuits than they had before the pandemic.
While some things, like Tik Tok dances, appear to have been quarantine fads, other hobbies seem to be sticking around. 2020 was the year of the “pandemic side hustle.” Americans launched ecommerce businesses, SaaS businesses, YouTube channels, blogs, and more to pursue their passions and diversify their incomes.
Ecommerce will continue to grow in 2022
The pandemic has resulted in tremendous growth in ecommerce. Online shopping is a normal part of many Americans’ lives, for everything from groceries to school supplies. Not only does online shopping save people time, but it’s safer—especially for unvaccinated Americans—than going out into retail crowds for essential goods.
Research suggests that 2022 could be America’s first 1 trillion dollar year for ecommerce, despite continuing product shortages.
Ecommerce has several advantages to retail shopping. Online stores are open 24/7, and they’re able to source products from all over the world—as long as people are willing to wait. Voice searches and augmented reality have created a more immersive online shopping experience for consumers. Curbside pickup perfectly integrates the convenience of online browsing with the instant gratification of retail. Also, online stores often offer a wider variety of payment options for shoppers—most notably pay-in-installments and cryptocurrency transactions.
As ecommerce demand continues to rise, prices are rising along with it. The prices of raw materials and shipping are increasing due to shortages and climate events, and the result is a higher cost on both consumer goods and consumer shipping.
Ecommerce will continue to grow throughout 2022, which will be an excellent time for brands to explore new ways to connect with consumers through online channels.
Mobile Commerce will be critical in 2022
When it comes to ecommerce, the mobile shopping experience is more important than ever. Consumers are browsing and purchasing on their mobile devices at record rates.
The surge in mobile commerce means that businesses need to be on high alert for cybersecurity threats. However, while data privacy and cybersecurity are essential to consumers, usability is even more prized. Brands that invest in UX will have an edge over the competition in mobile commerce during 2022.
Social commerce is here, and it’s growing
As Americans continue to spend time at home, they’re spending lots of time on social media. Recognizing their need to engage more users, many social platforms have integrated with shopping platforms to offer in-app shopping experiences that allow users to browse and checkout without leaving the app.
Additionally, video marketing and livestream shopping are driving engagements on social media channels. Brands that combine marketing with entertainment are winning over customers in a crowded market.
Social commerce is relatively new, but it will remain a prominent trend in 2022.
What does the change in American homes mean for businesses?
As businesses launch their plans for 2022, agile research and deep consumer insights are critical. Stay up to date on the latest consumer trends inside American homes with in-depth market research from aytm.