Analysis: How COVID-19 Impacted Musical Instrument Sales Online

The past year has seen Americans picking up all sorts of new hobbies and interests. Months spent sheltering in place made sourdough starters all the rage, houseplants and DIY projects dominated social media feeds, and pandemic puppies became a new buzzword (read our analysis: the Purchasing Patterns of Pet Owners).

But were Americans also interested in picking up a more demanding skill like learning to play a musical instrument?

To celebrate National Buy a Musical Instrument Day, and because we love digging into the data to uncover new ecommerce trends, we did a deep dive into online sales for musical instruments and accessories: Which musical instruments experience the most online demand? Which ones saw the biggest bump right after lockdowns last year? What were the long-term effects of COVID-19 on musical instrument sales?

Our data science team analyzed market demand for musical instruments and accessories in 2019 and 2020 to find out the answer to these questions and more.

Which musical instruments were the most popular on Amazon in 2020?

Before diving deep into the data, we started by comparing the major types of musical instruments on Amazon. Here’s a list of the instruments in our analysis and the total demand each received in 2020:

The piano may be the most commonly played instrument in America, but it’s no surprise that on Amazon it’s the guitar that reigns supreme. The guitar is so popular that it received 87% more demand than the rest of the instruments in our analysis combined.

The piano (which for our analysis includes keyboards) received the next most demand, while drums received the third most.

Ukuleles were a strong fourth place, as you might expect people are far more willing to purchase a ukulele online than a more specialized or advanced instrument.

How did COVID-19 impact market demand for guitars?

As the chart above suggests, demand is likely to be extremely different depending on which musical instrument you examine. But since guitars represented such a massive slice of the pie, we decided to start first by examining demand for guitars throughout 2020.

Here’s what we found:

Initially, COVID-19 appears to have had a negative impact on demand for guitars. Demand plummeted in early March during the uncertain early days of the pandemic. By the week of March 22, as Americans began to understand the implications of a future sheltering in place, demand rebounded sharply.

Demand for guitars then settled to consistent levels before reaching their highest levels during the holiday shopping season.

The chart above shows that there was a clear impact in the early weeks of the pandemic, but to even better understand the overall impact of COVID-19 we’ll need to compare 2020 to the previous year:

Monthly demand for guitars started the year high, with demand in January 2020 37% higher than January of 2019. And it’s here where you can see even clearer evidence that many Americans decided early quarantine was a perfect time to learn to play the guitar.

Demand stayed higher than in 2019 throughout the entire year, though the boost clearly waned as the year went on, with December’s demand only outpacing December 2019 by 2%.

How did COVID-19 impact market demand for musical instruments?

After seeing how COVID-19 impacted the instrument with the highest demand, we next wanted to see if other instruments experienced similar trends.

First, we took demand for the months of March and April 2020 and compared them to the same months in 2019 to see which instruments got the biggest “quarantine bumps.”

According to our analysis, the ukulele was by far the most popular early quarantine musical instrument. Demand in March and April last year was 66% higher than in 2019. A cheap, fun, and comparatively simple instrument, it’s pandemic popularity is no surprise.

The guitar got the next largest boost, followed by the piano, and then far more surprisingly, the harp got the fourth largest early-pandemic boost.

Not all instruments in our analysis had a better March and April in 2020 than in 2019, though. Trombones and violas both saw demand drop by 27% in those months. Trumpets and saxophones also saw demand dip in that timeframe.

But, as we saw in the monthly year-over-year chart for guitars, the early-pandemic bump only tells part of the story. So we next compared total demand for all of 2020 to total demand for all of 2019 to determine the longer-term impact of COVID-19 on each instrument.

Most of the instruments in our analysis experienced an early-pandemic bump, but here we can see COVID-19 had a negative long-term effect on most of the instruments in our analysis.

Guitars, pianos (and keyboards), ukuleles, harps, and drums all experienced more demand in 2020 than in 2019, but the rest of the instruments in our analysis saw demand fall last year.

A possible explanation is that instruments well-suited for self-teaching at home did well in 2020, but those more associated with traditional in-school learning environments (like High School band class, etc.) suffered long-term.

For an even clearer picture, let’s take a look at the monthly year-over-year comparison for some of the most impacted instruments. First, here are the instruments who saw the biggest increase in demand:

Each instrument started the year strong before seeing demand surge in April. Demand for pianos and guitars remained slightly above 2019’s through the end of the year, while drum and ukulele demand settled to just under 2019.

Here’s how 2020 looked for the instruments that experienced the biggest decreases in demand:

2020 started strong for these instruments as well, but their demand plummeted in April and never really recovered.

The lack of an early pandemic bump makes sense as someone’s far more likely to decide to teach themself how to play the guitar while on lockdown than they would the trombone.

The lack of any recovery and the dip in August during the back-to-school shopping season, meanwhile, lends further evidence to our theory that distance learning has had a severe impact on demand for specialized musical instruments.

How did COVID-19 impact market demand for musical accessories?

We’ve learned that last year saw people more likely to want to buy a new guitar or ukulele, and far less likely to buy a new trombone or viola, but what about musical supplies? To close out our analysis, we examined data for musical accessories. Here’s what we found:

Strings and tuning supplies both experienced a modest increase in demand in the early days of the pandemic shutdown, but both pale in comparison to the run on rosin. Demand for rosin shot up by 79% in April 2020 compared to April 2019, and increased even higher to a 91% increase in May.

It appears that string musicians felt adequately stocked up by the summer, though, as demand fell to normal levels for the rest of the year.

Drumsticks, meanwhile, saw demand fall from above 2019 levels early in the pandemic and never recovered.

A lesson for brands

Musical instruments are popular year-round, but our data shows that COVID-19 has impacted some types of instruments far differently than others.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may see demand for certain types of instruments quickly rebound as schools begin to resume in-person learning, while other types of instruments may see demand decline after 2020’s surges.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)
Sept 13, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 13th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon scales back on US warehouse facilities Amazon is shutting down two facilities with 300 employees, discarding plans for 42 facilities, and delaying plans to open a further 21 buildings across the US. The ecommerce giant is scaling back on hiring as well as the expansion of its vast delivery network, as it was left with an excess of space following its rapid expansion during the pandemic. [Read more on Business Insider](https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-closes-2-facilities-scraps-plans-42-new-buildings-report-2022-9?r=US&IR=T) --- Other Marketplace News --- JD.com is ‘betting’ on ecommerce grocery market Amidst a slowing economy and a decline in ecommerce, Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com has increased its urgency to seek new growth engines. The company is looking to boost its online grocery business through offline partnerships and expansion into lower-tier cities, where it may be able to unleash more consumption power. [Read more on The Star](https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2022/09/08/chinese-ecommerce-giant-jdcom-bets-big-on-online-grocery-lower-tier-markets-amid-slowing-economy) Shopee shuts operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico Sea’s ecommerce arm, Shopee, has shut local operations in some LATAM countries but will continue to maintain cross-border operations in a few markets. Latin America is Sea’s most important region following South-east Asia, accounting for close to 19% of its revenue in 2021. The move away from these countries is largely due to increased levels of macro uncertainty and rising interest and inflation rates, and rather putting a focus on its core operations. [Read more on Straits Times](https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/seas-shopee-shuts-operations-in-argentina-chile-colombia-mexico-sources) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Instagram scales back in-stream shopping elements Instagram is re-examining its approach as it hasn’t been able to make ‘fetch’ happen. ‘Fetch’ in this context being the online shopping trends which have become all-consuming in China, and what Western social platforms have been hoping to add into their apps to make them more addictive and revenue-generating. Consumers have not been swayed by the latest shopping tools on TikTok and Instagram, leading to Instagram scaling back its in-stream shopping program. [Read more on SocialMediaToday](https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/instagram-scales-back-in-stream-shopping-elements-as-it-re-examines-its-app/631276/) FedEx Express supporting the growth of cross border ecommerce FedEx express has expanded its international commerce shipping service to four more markets across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region in an effort to support the strong development of ecommerce in this region. Three of the fastest growing markets, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are leading Southeast Asia’s ecommerce sales, which is set to reach $100 billion by 2023. [Read more on Post & Parcel](https://postandparcel.info/149889/news/e-commerce/fedex-express-supports-the-growth-of-cross-border-e-commerce-within-the-amea-region/) India ramps up hiring as companies prepare for shoppers Ecommerce companies are getting ready for the festive season by rapidly expanding their temporary workforce. As ecommerce in India grows, the country is predicted to have 372 million online shoppers by the end of 2022. The festive season this year, running from October to December, is expected to see a two-fold increase in logistics and delivery alone. During this period, companies are predicted to add 20% more to their existing workforce base, with a 8-10% higher pay scale compared to last year. [Read more on Business Insider India](https://www.businessinsider.in/business/ecommerce/news/the-great-indian-festival-of-hiring-e-commerce-companies-gear-up-for-indias-shoppers/articleshow/94000346.cms)