Tracking the consumer sector’s Covid-19 recovery: How has the sector fared in Q2 2021?

By Michael Goodier

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Research by GlobalData looks at “sector activity” in consumer packaged goods and compares the industry to other verticals.

The consumer packaged goods sector has emerged as a mid-table performer in the world economy compared to other industries when it comes to post-pandemic performance in the second quarter of 2021.

Activity levels in the sector were 11% higher than they were at the end of 2019, before the pandemic decimated economies across the world. This means that, of the 18 sectors included in the analysis, the consumer packaged goods sector ranks 12th in terms of its latest value for Covid-19 activity recovery.

The healthcare sector saw the highest sector activity levels in Q2 2021 relative to the last quarter of 2019, with the automotive, technology and apparel sectors comprising the rest of the top four.

GlobalData's sector activity metric is derived from several of the company's research datasets. The composite index is composed using a combination of company-level data on job advertisements, deals, stock prices and sentiment analysis across financial filings and news reports.

Sentiment analysis is a form of machine learning, in which an algorithm attempts to classify whether a snippet of text contains positive, neutral or negative information. In the case of a news report, it would seek to determine whether the report was good or bad news for the subject in question.

Overall, GlobalData’s sector activity metric is a dynamic metric taking in millions of data points that can be used to track how strongly different sectors or industries are performing.

We can also delve into the component parts of the index to get a sense of exactly where companies from a given sector are over- or under-performing. One of the more traditional measures of tracking performance is through the value of company stocks, which we’ve grouped together by industry to form a stocks performance index for each. After a dip in spring 2020, the average sector has been performing above pre-pandemic levels since early August 2020. However, the extent of recovery varies by sector.

Consumer stocks generally underperformed the market in the past year, as per the chart above, although that’s not to say they performed badly. By 30 June 2021, stocks in these companies – as tracked by GlobalData – were 23.6% above their starting point in October 2019.

Hiring levels are also useful in determining how confident a company is feeling about the months ahead. GlobalData’s jobs index tracks job openings across thousands of companies on a daily basis, allowing us to assess that confidence in real-time and gauge which sectors are feeling Covid-19’s impact the hardest.

The number of open job advertisements in the consumer packaged goods sector is currently at a lower level compared to most other industries, relative to their pre-pandemic norms. By 20 June 2021, the latest date for which data are available, hiring levels were 16.4% higher than those recorded prior to Covid-19’s impact. This means the consumer packaged goods sector ranks 16th out of the 18 sectors analysed when it comes to the recovery of hiring levels.

In addition to jobs and stocks, our composite index also factors M&A deals into account, tracking mergers, acquisitions, private equity and venture-capital deals on a daily basis. This, again, can be seen as a good indicator with which to gauge how ambitious companies are feeling, with a greater number of transactions indicating a more optimistic outlook.

Relative to pre-pandemic levels, the volume of financial deals in the consumer industry has been lower than that in most other industries over the past 19 months.

By 30 June 2021, deals in the consumer packaged goods sector were 9% higher than levels at the start of October 2019, placing the sector in tenth position out of the 18 industries included in the analysis on current deal volume recovery.

For the latest food sector analysis, visit GlobalData's Consumer Intelligence Centre.