With coronavirus cases surging in the United States, it looks like we’ll be sticking close to home this winter. And since chilly temps and snowfall are just around the corner, all things comforting and cozy will have extra appeal—as well as any form of entertainment that will help us cope with cabin fever while staying away from crowds.
And given that many others will be on the same page, you might want to get the jump on stocking up. Here’s what trend watchers say you should buy now before inventory gets low to get you through a gloomy COVID-19 winter.
1. Outdoor gear
Dave Labbe, senior vice president at Kittery Trading Post, saw record sales this summer of items like kayaks, camping gear, and bicycles. He expects the trend to continue for the winter.
“Our anticipation is that all winter categories will see the same trend,” he says. “Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skies, snowboarding, and winter camping and hiking will boom as people continue to participate in anything outdoor-related.”
And outdoor activities aren’t just for weekends, either. Kids who are still learning from home will need outdoor breaks. Store inventories of backyard ice rink kits, backyard snowboards, skates, sleds, and snowman kits may melt away quickly.
2. Outdoor clothing
Coats, hats, and mittens are popular every winter season, but this year you might have trouble finding what you want as more people brave the cold and snow to fend off cabin fever.
“People want to continue spending time together safely this winter amid the pandemic, and for many people that means staying outside and socially distanced,” says Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet.
One way to stay bundled up without a lot of layers is the trendy wearable sleeping bag. Buy essentials like mittens, gloves, and snow pants now. And with some kids learning from home, frequent “recess” breaks will have parents coveting the convenience of boot dryers and glove dryers.
3. Exercise equipment
Dumbbells and treadmills became difficult to find after gyms closed in the spring due to the pandemic. But don’t beat yourself up if you coped with the first few months of quarantine by binge-watching Netflix and eating. You’re not alone!
If you’re hoping to shed some COVID-19 pounds in 2021, order your exercise equipment now.
Watch: Coronavirus Self-Care Kit: Stock Up on These Items
According to Colleen Logan, vice president of marketing at ICON Health and Fitness, exercise equipment will continue to be in high demand as the flu season converges with COVID-19, and people may be hesitant to sweat it out at the gym. In first place: treadmills. And for your shelter-in-place makeshift gym, compact studio bikes and rowers squeeze in as likely second and third choices.
4. Humidifiers and air purifiers
You know about those infectious, airborne particles we’ve heard so much about? Well, when you run a humidifier, it affects those particles in an interesting way. When the air is dry and the humidity is low, the particles are small and remain in the air longer—not good. However, recent studies show that when the humidity is higher, there are fewer infectious particles. They are also are bigger and heavier, causing them to sink.
And air purifiers? Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for WalletHub, predicts they will be in demand once open windows are no longer an option. HEPA filters can capture around 99% of those nasty particles.
5. Light therapy
We can blame the pandemic for many things, including increased anxiety. It might be surprising to know that there are anxiety triggers you haven’t noticed in your own house. Spending time outdoors is a proven mood lifter, but when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, you just don’t feel like going outside.
That’s why Andrea Woroch, a consumer-savings and shopping expert, predicts light therapy lamps will be a hot item. Soaking up artificial sunshine has been proven to improve a crappy mood, and sitting in front of one while you focus on your breathing is a convenient way to do it.
6. Board games and video games
You’ve probably discovered there’s only so many TikTok videos and Netflix watch parties you can stand before you’re looking for something else to do while staying connected with family and friends.
“Consumers have already shown that they are spending more on home entertainment throughout this pandemic,” says Kylie Ross Sibert, vice president of corporate communications at Retail Alliance.
That includes classic board games, streaming subscriptions, laptops, and puzzles. Gamers can’t wait to get their hands on the next-generation Sony PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles.
Ross Sibert says preorders taken in September sold out of their initial supply, so keep an eye out for the Nov. 12 release in the U.S.
7. 2021 cars and SUVs
If you have your heart set on a brand-new set of wheels to escape your cabin fever, you might have a hard time finding the model you want. When the pandemic first hit, automobile dealers pulled back on their supply chains as people stayed home, leaving their cars parked in the driveway.
Now the inventory is low, especially for 2021 model SUVs, says Daniel Levine, director of the Avant-Guide Institute, a global trends and marketing company.
In fact, industry research agency Cox Automotive reports that only 3% of vehicles on dealership lots are 2021 models. That’s a sharp decline compared with last year, when new model vehicles made up 25% of dealership lots.
8. Pet goods
Fostering and adopting furry quarantine companions skyrocketed when the pandemic started, so there are many more pet parents these days buying pet-related goodies.
As winter approaches, Steve King, CEO of the American Pet Products Association, says you may want to stock up on pet-friendly ice melt. (Traditional ice melt can cause skin irritation or ingestion hazards.) And with snow and shipping delays in the forecast, it’s better to snag it now along with other cold weather gear like dog booties, matching holiday jammies, or hats for those Instagram-worthy holiday pictures and cards.
9. Comfortable clothes
If you’re going to endure the boredom, restlessness, and isolation of cabin fever, you might as well be comfortable.
Erica Russo, a fashion consultant and lifestyle expert, says comfy clothes from popular brands are sure to sell out quickly. Stash chunky knit cardigans, cashmere lounge sets, and comfy slippers into your cart before the size and colors you want vanish.
There’s no shortage of traditional face masks now, but Russo says she’s noticed an uptick in silk face masks. She says their popularity is due to their breathability, and they could help minimize “maskne.”
10. Buying options
“If you have your eye on something, it’s a good idea to search different online retailers until you find one that says the item is in stock. If it’s out of stock, there’s no way to tell how soon you could see the item at your doorstep,” suggests NerdWallet’s Palmer.
She also recommends searching your local store inventory online with retail giants such as Target and Walmart.
WalletHub’s Gonzalez adds that you should keep your eye out for smaller “flash” sales, too. And don’t forget about independently owned shops in your town. They could use your support, and you just might get something even better and unique.