The effects of Covid-19 have been devastating for small businesses. Conditions are unsafe and people are in fear of leaving their houses due to the spread of the virus across the country. People have now turned away from local dining experiences and are in favor of in-house cooking. Gordon Ramsay and Alton Brown how-to videos on YouTube are hitting peak number of viewers and people are now realizing they might not have the kitchen equipment to cook with ease.
Being at home for most of the year has forced people to get familiar with their kitchen appliances. Functionality has taken a forefront in consumer demands when stay-at-home orders started to be enforced. Appliances that saw an increase in sales include microwaves, air fryers, pressure cookers, toaster ovens, and blenders.
What Does the Data Say?
According to NPD, during the first week of Covid-19 shutdowns, the small appliance category grew 8%. Along with the reasons I mentioned prior, there are two additional driving factors for the sales spike: price and availability.
Just a quick search on BestBuy.com will show you that the air fryer category has at least 30 different manufacturers, all with competitive pricing. Shopping on a budget has never been easier among small appliances. Demand sharply rose, and in turn, manufacturers vied to catch the eyes of the consumer with competitive pricing. The ability to cook something in an air fryer or toaster/convection oven for a fraction of the cost did not require a second thought for most who lacked adequate major appliances.
Availability Is Your Greatest Asset
As the sports world says, “availability is your greatest asset,” and the people have spoken. While factories for larger appliances such as refrigerators and ranges shut down, resulting in supply shortages & long backlogs, inventory of small appliances likely exceeded demand due to vast number of brands in the game. The range has stopped working and we need a replacement? Oh, it is not in stock? Guess the solution is pretty clear then: toaster oven, air fryer, small convection oven, multi-cookers.
This bolstering market is an attractive one for new players. One of the manufacturers joining in that race is GE. In October, they launched 17 small appliances varying from toasters and blenders to coffee makers and kettles. That said, GE is not necessarily new to the game…they once were the innovators for countertop cooking appliances starting in the early 1900s. Being one of the largest players in the home appliance market, dipping into this market once again will for sure stir up some more rivalries. In addition to GE, SharkNinja continues to take over new categories in the small appliance sector, even launching a cookware series that sure to compete with Calphalon, All Clad, and the likes.
A Bright Future…For Some
With how wild 2020 has been, the surge of small appliances to the top of consumers’ shopping lists should be the least surprising. With the increased unemployment and future income uncertainty, a year-over-year growth rate estimated to be 5.25% doesn’t seem too far-fetched. There is a reason that we already look at images from 2019 and get that eerie feeling when everyone is huddled up together and talking face-to-face. Times have changed, and markets have too. The door to small appliances has been broken wide open this year, and people are realizing and capitalizing on the “undiscovered” potential.