Unsurprisingly, malls were hit especially hard by COVID with visits declining dramatically in the spring before beginning a slow comeback to normalcy in May and June. Yet, there are real reasons to believe that the sector could see a strong revival in 2021. Looking at an index of over 50 top tier malls throughout the country shows the steady pace of return that the sector saw throughout the summer. Following a dip in November as COVID cases surged a week before Black Friday’s shopping peak, the sector recovered with year-over-year gaps shrinking each month from November through January.
The National Multifamily Housing Council reports that 79.8% of households living in the country’s stock of professionally managed market-rate apartment properties have paid rent for April as of the 6th. The latest results are up by 1.8 percentage points from the 78% share of households making payments through April 6, 2020. However, collections have started off a bit slower in April than a month ago in March, when 80.4% of households paid in the initial week of the month. The findings come from the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker research, compiling information provided by five technology firms, including RealPage, Inc., for more than 11 million market-rate apartment units.
Historically, success in personal care has meant winning precious shelf space from brick-and-mortar retail giants. This has created a large barrier to entry for new brands and left entrenched standbys with the lion’s share of the market. A recent faction of upstarts, however, has turned this model on its head by offering personal care products directly to consumers through their own websites. In this week’s Insight Flash, we look at some of these brands to see which ones have the highest spend growth, how loyal their customers really are, and whether cross-shopping implies that there may be consolidation in the space. Over the last year, Billie and Manscaped have seen the highest y/y direct-to-consumer spend growth, although it has decelerated from triple-digit levels in early 2020 to 37% for Billie and 24% for Manscaped in February 2021.
Almost exactly one year after the start of the pandemic, the third and largest-to-date stimulus payment of $1400 per individual (vs. the second round’s $600 and the first round’s $1200) began rolling out to taxpayers in mid-March. In addition to its increased size, the timing of this payout is particularly interesting, coinciding with rising vaccination rates and the re-opening of many local economies, thus providing more ‘purchasing power’ this round. We dove into the data to see how this third stimulus round impacted consumer spending across various geographies, sectors, and retailers.
If we live in an attention economy, then there's no doubt where people are currently directing their eyeballs. Our new data for Q1 2021 reveals that consumers are spending more time than ever in apps – and the surges in some countries have sent daily dwell times past five hours. In a stay-at-home year for billions of people, the app habit grew stronger in all markets analysed. The global average time spent was 4.2 hours a day, up 30% compared to two years prior. In Q1, daily time spent passed four hours in the US, Turkey, Mexico and India for the first time. In Brazil, South Korea and Indonesia, it was more than five hours.
U.S. apartment occupancy remains in great shape as of March 2021. In turn, healthy occupancy is allowing rents to climb in most places, although the differences in pricing power from metro to metro – or even from neighborhood to neighborhood – are unusually big. Apartment occupancy across the country’s 150 largest metros stands at 95.5% in March. There’s been minimal movement in results of late, with occupancy bouncing around between 95.2% and 95.8% since late 2019.
There's been no shortage of content to watch as the streaming platforms have exploded during the last year. And, although most people have been able to watch movies on their TV's or phones, in the comfort of their living rooms, there's just nothing like the experience of a darkened theater, 30 foot screen, body-shaking surround sound, and a bucket of buttery popcorn that gives you a stomachache near Act III. And as we round the corner back to normalcy, we take a look back at how movie theaters digital marketing reacted and adapted to the pandemic.
The Dodge Momentum Index moved 1.7% higher in March to 151.4 (2000=100) from the revised February reading of 148.8. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. According to the March data, the Index hit its highest level since the summer of 2018 as a result of an increase in institutional projects that entered the planning stage, and which came on the heels of a similar gain for the sector in February.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 3, 2021, as well as volumes for March 2021. U.S. railroads originated 1,156,158 carloads in March 2021, up 4.1 percent, or 45,504 carloads, from March 2020. U.S. railroads also originated 1,430,331 containers and trailers in March 2021, up 24 percent, or 276,781 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in March 2021 were 2,586,489, up 14.2 percent, or 322,285 carloads and intermodal units from March 2020.
With 2020 behind us and signs of recovery abound, we checked back in on the travel industry to see how it’s been rebounding thus far and what 2021 could have in store for hotels and airports. Last time we checked in, visits to airports were rebounding at the end of the year following the holidays, and that progress continued into 2021. Almost every airport showed year-over-year growth from the end of 2020 into the new year. Only DFW airport in Dallas showed an increase in the year-over-year gap between January and February – likely because of the unprecedented weather the state experienced at the beginning of the new year.
Today we’re going to look at our Second Reemergence. Foot traffic has dramatically increased over the last few weeks as quarantine fatigue, vaccinations, declining case counts, weather, and more encouraged us to leave our homes en masse. We’re not back to normal. Like our first reemergence last Spring, traffic is distributed differently and highly regional. But even still: we haven’t seen activity like this in quite some time.
The coronavirus forced people to reconsider and even scrap their vacation plans altogether. While reservations through short-term rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO plummeted 47% from January to April, bookings slowly recovered in the following months. Experts theorize short-term rentals in remote markets offer a social distance-friendly experience, with multiple bedroom-units and whole homes furnished with full-service amenities, including kitchens, making longer-term stays more convenient.
National home prices increased 10.4% year over year in February 2021, according to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI®) Report. The February 2021 HPI gain was up from the February 2020 gain of 4.3% and was the highest year-over-year gain since April 2006. Low mortgage rates and low for-sale inventory drove the increase in home prices; however, affordability constraints may work to slow home price growth later this year, especially as mortgage rates increase.
In today’s Insight Flash, we take advantage of our newly launched UK channel data to do a deep dive on how online shopping behavior has changed in the Apparel, Accessories & Footwear world since the COVID-19 Pandemic. We break out online vs. offline spend growth for the overall industry and included subindustries, as well as the percentage of sales through each channel by subindustry. For Apparel, Accessories & Footwear in the UK, online growth outpaced offline growth even in 2019. Online spend growth was positive for the first seven months of 2019 while offline growth was negative. And even though online trends turned negative in the next few months pre-pandemic, offline trends were more negative still.
Despite many accounts of an urban exodus, the COVID-19 pandemic will not leave American cities hollow. Throughout the pandemic search activity has turned towards large, dense cities, not away from them. For every renter who left, there appear to be many ready to take their spot. Compared to this time last year (i.e., pre-pandemic), the data show more search activity directed towards higher-density cities and towards the principal cities that anchor each major metropolitan area. Simultaneously, increased demand for short-term leases indicate that pandemic-era moves are less permanent than those of previous years.
Renter demand for U.S. apartments proved solid in 1st quarter 2021, exceeding typical results for what’s normally a slow leasing period. Demand for 52,661 apartments registered across the country’s 150 largest metros during 1st quarter. That’s a solid performance given that leasing activity tends to be limited in the cold weather months. Product absorption in 1st quarter 2021 topped the year-earlier volume of 29,657 units by a sizable margin. Early 2021 demand more than doubled the average 1st quarter demand of about 25,000 units recorded over the previous 10 years.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have been suffering during COVID-19, but one category that is expanding is dollar stores. Demand for the inexpensive groceries and household items found in dollar stores skyrocketed in 2020, especially in rural areas with fewer shopping options. An analysis of transaction data found that among dollar stores, Dollar General experienced the highest sales growth in 2020 by capturing spend from customers who previously shopped at competitors.
Distress has been the watchword for capital raising in recent months as investors eye assets under pressure because of Covid-19 challenges. As yet though, troubled assets have not translated through to a spike in distressed asset sales. As shown in the chart, so far only the hotel sector has seen a notable surge in distressed sales as a percentage of the sector volume. Between March of 2020 and February of 2021, 8% of hotel sales involved a distressed asset. However, the total level of hotel transaction activity was scant during that time frame: only $10.6 billion of hotels traded, as compared to $36.6 billion in the prior 12-month period.
In this Placer Bytes, we break down the latest performances of two home furnishings leaders – Bed Bath & Beyond, and Conn’s, and analyze Amazon’s latest grocery push. There were fairly widespread concerns just a few years ago that Bed Bath & Beyond’s long-term prospects were anything but rosy. But, the brand saw a strong year that was only expected by a handful of observers. And it looks like that strength could continue into 2021. After seeing visits decline steadily week over week following a peak in mid-December, visits began to steadily rise again after a wave of inclement weather that hit across the US in late January and early February. By the week beginning March 15th, visits had risen 15.1% week over week.
The streaming wars are raging in 2021 and the arena is stacked with old and new players. Companies are leaning on digital ads to entice new subscribers with exclusive content, new releases, and beloved classics. Paramount+ is the latest streaming company to debut in 2021, replacing CBS All Access as the dedicated streaming platform from ViacomCBS. Paramount+ spent $15M in digital ads from the beginning of the year leading to the launch on March 4th. In the time leading up to the launch, Paramount+ spent more than its peers like HBO Max ($12M), Peacock ($5.7M), and Discovery Plus ($13M).