For many urban workers around the world, 2020 has largely been spent at home, decked out in sweatpants and a Zoom-friendly shirt, with perhaps a takeout food container or two and uncompleted jigsaw puzzles within reach.
While COVID19 has impacted everyone differently, it’s clear that the new normal of social distancing has resulted in a shift of consumer behaviors, prompting many to seek out creative ways to continue their hobbies indoors, or even discover entirely new home-friendly passions.
To find out exactly how this is affecting Japan’s shopping habits, Rakuten Ichiba dove into its records and compared year-on-year sales growth for a number of categories between March and May.
Quality home time with the whole family
For those sharing a roof with family, 2020 has been a year of bonding. On Rakuten Ichiba, shoppers are making the most of this time by snapping up good old-fashioned board games, which enjoyed a +254% jump in sales. Meanwhile, kitchen appliances such as hotplates, tabletop fryers and takoyaki grillers, around which the whole family can gather and grill their own food, also saw significant growth.
However, some stay-at-homers are clearly not happy with all the extra time in the kitchen. Demand for electric pressure cookers jumped +236% and frozen meals +141% as home chefs look for ways to cut down on the time it takes to cook three meals a day.
Fortunately, restaurateurs have been happy to help. A wide variety of gourmet platters that previously would have been eaten at restaurants have made their way into lucky bag sales or are being sold directly on Rakuten Ichiba as ‘leftover stock’ (a category that saw growth of a whopping +4205%).
Lovers of the great outdoors are also looking for ways to pursue their passions without leaving home. Many are turning to their balconies and verandas — a realm of the Japanese home hitherto relegated to hanging out the laundry — buying roughly twice the number of hammocks and garden parasols. Fitness junkies aren’t letting gym closures throw them off their routines either: Sales of dumbbells and foam rollers both saw growth of around +250%.
Meanwhile, more and more people are taking up entirely new home-friendly hobbies: Stitching kits enjoyed a +162% increase in demand, while planters and gardening projects such as the shiitake mushroom cultivation kit (above) saw similar growth.
Despite the isolation, consumers are trying to find ways to stay connected. In what is likely a worldwide trend, HD web cameras saw a jump in sales of some +10,719% as people pivot to working, chatting and partying from home. Demand for LED makeup mirrors also doubled, perhaps because lighting can be a crucial part of the online interaction.
As of July, government restrictions have been relaxed in many parts of the country and life and work in Japan are gradually adjusting yet again. The first half of 2020 may have given the country a severe dose of cabin fever, but hopefully this new approach to enjoying life at home will not be forgotten.