Americans optimistic about future

Hand holding a pair of binoculars A survey from Toluna shows 75% of Americans are optimistic about the future. But, despite the recent approval of a new stimulus package, 54% are still concerned about their financial security and 39% say they are less well-off now than before the pandemic.

As the economy begins to open up and restrictions ease, 46% of Americans plan to go shopping in stores in the next few months, compared to 37% who plan to shop online. Food habits are also changing. Forty-four percent plan to go out to dinner in the coming months, with 35% saying they have missed the social aspect of eating out. Forty-five percent say they will continue to cook and eat at home.

The survey was conducted from February 25 – March 3, 2021. 

Small businesses embrace shift to remote work

Small businesses will take different approaches to office space depending on company needs, according to Clutch's survey of 500 small business owners and managers. Thirty-five percent of small businesses own office space while 33% lease office space and 21% don’t own or lease office space at all. For the smallest businesses, especially, remote work is becoming more popular and widespread – 59% of small businesses currently without office space do not plan to invest in it in the future. For companies seeking flexibility and community, coworking is an option – 10% of small businesses have a contract with a coworking space. Small businesses with office space leases will continue to adjust their real estate plans throughout 2021. Thirty-three percent of small businesses that lease office space plan to bring all employees back to the office in 2021, while 32% plan to bring some employees back to in-person work and 15% plan to downsize.

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As beauty habits change, spending shifts online

The majority of U.S. beauty consumers say they are now spending more online than before the pandemic. Research from PowerReviews uncovered new trends in beauty purchasing, finding that 41% of beauty consumers say they spend less overall on beauty products than before COVID-19, while 21% say the spend more and 38% say they spend the same. Fifty-four percent report wearing less makeup than before the pandemic and 56% say they focus more on skincare.

Beauty spending has shifted online, with 87% of beauty consumers saying they spend more or the same online than before COVID-19, with the highest income bracket more likely to spend online. Forty-nine percent say they now spend more than $50 online on beauty products, compared to 16% in 2019. Fifty-seven percent of shoppers say beauty products they bought online in 2020 were first-time purchases. In-store beauty spending at this level has also increased, with 41% saying they now spend more than $50 in-store compared to 21% in 2019. Fifty-five percent also say they use curbside pick-up more than before the pandemic.

The research was conducted in January 2021. Read more.

Global tech market turns positive

While April 2020 saw a sales value decline of almost 25%, global market technical consumer goods (excluding North America) have shown resilience with a value growth of +2% in the full year according to GfK. The firm reports that from January to December 2020, the number of brands sold by distributors increased by 6%, with more brands following indirect strategies to safeguard the channel’s supply.

Consumers are continuing to turn toward tech for learning and working from home, as well as home appliances for cooking and cleaning. In Europe, the first four weeks of 2021 saw sales of mobile PCs up 48% and desktop PCs up 59%.

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Returning to the workplace

When it comes to returning to the workplace, 66% of employees say they are worried about their health and safety, according to a study conducted by Wakefield Research in partnership with Envoy. People of color and Gen Z (under age 25) employees show a noticeably higher concern, at 78% and 75%, respectively. A majority (62%) believe companies should require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccination before being permitted to work in the office.

Forty-eight percent of respondents say they would like a hybrid work model, working remotely some days and from the office others. In addition, 41% say they would be willing to take a job with a lower salary if the company offered a hybrid work model. Fifty-two percent of office workers say that their co-worker’s work schedules will influence their own, with 18% reporting they would go into the office to secure face time with their boss and 23% reporting that they would work from the office to see friends.

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U.K. freelancers experience pros and cons of remote work

In 2020, the traditional freelancer lifestyle of remote-working became a requirement, as employees from around the world were required to work from home. Worksome polled 1,202 U.K. freelancers and found that, while many of the survey respondents were already freelancing prior to the pandemic, 21.4% began freelancing during COVID-19. Ninety-five percent of those who began freelancing during that time said that COVID-19 had an impact on their decision to start, either because it provided for a wider range of jobs in different locations or because they were made redundant.

Though 57% of survey respondents had a positive experience while working in 2020, 43% were negatively affected. Those who had positive experiences contributed it to either an increase in freelance/contractor roles available or the global shift to remote work. On the flip side, those who had a negative experience contributed it to either an increase in competition and difficulty when finding a role or to less freelance job availability. Forty-one percent of survey respondents found that their productivity levels were unaffected by working remotely and 32.8% felt they were actually more productive – and 74.5% felt happier working as a freelancer than a permanent employee. However, 64% of survey respondents said they earned less than usual during the pandemic and 71.4% experienced cancellations or delays due to COVID-19. Ultimately, 82% of freelancers surveyed plan to continue working as a freelancer or independent contractor after COVID-19 ends.

The study was conducted from November 11, 2020 – January 17, 2021. Read more.