Direct Selling Association

Ben Gamse, Director of Industry Insights

Research conducted by DSA including monthly pandemic-tracking surveys, quarterly KPI surveys, an annual market-sizing survey, and publicly reported data provide evidence that direct selling continues to experience significant growth during the pandemic. We saw 13.9% growth in direct retail sales in 2020, achieving a record $40.1 billion in direct retail sales. There were 7.7 million direct sellers and more than 41.6 million customers in 2020.

Year to date 2021, the industry remains strong, and we expect to exceed record sales levels set in 2020. We expect to be on track to meet our forecast of 4-7% YOY growth in direct sales in 2021. (For a pre-pandemic comparison, this growth range expected for 2020 represents a 18-22% growth rate over 2019).

Despite macroeconomic volatility and uncertainty, conditions for direct selling are strong. Below are some potential reasons for this direct selling growth.

Over the last year, direct selling has provided a reliable channel for consumers to get in-demand products along with the ability to buy from a local salesperson in their community. The growth of direct selling product and service categories appears to be aligned with broader retail trends with people more focused on their health and generally spending much more time in their homes during the pandemic.

Direct selling also provides opportunity for flexible, supplemental income during a time when Americans are perhaps looking for ways to gain flexibility and diversify their income. Although a tight labor market nearing full employment, and increased competition from gig economy due pose challenges moving forward.

Key Stat

  • Direct selling provided earning opportunities to 7.7 million Americans in 2020 that were seeking supplemental, entrepreneurial income opportunities.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores

Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, President & CEO

“Inspiration” and “innovation” define the state of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores membership. NACDS members and their teams – in traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass retail – have proven themselves again throughout the pandemic as the face of neighborhood healthcare. They have stayed open; filled gaps in care; rolled out COVID-19 testing; vaccinated against COVID-19, flu and other diseases; and leveraged and enhanced pharmacies’ ongoing focus on health equity.

Government reporting shows that, as of mid-July 2021, 92 percent of all COVID-19 vaccine was getting to Americans’ arms through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Pharmacies’ vaccinations through state programs take that percentage even higher. Pharmacies continue to lead the way with COVID-19 boosters, expanding to pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations, and giving flu vaccinations and other shots. With the current deployment of extremely limited quantities of medications to treat COVID-19, pharmacies are doing all they can to assist the federal government in the roll-out.

In describing the state of the industry, it is important to point out that NACDS provides a unified voice for the membership to advocate for the federal and state policies necessary to help meet the needs of Americans. In October, November and December 2021, NACDS released three reports that describe the pandemic’s lessons and recommendations for the future.

A key takeaway is that, if pharmacies had not been successful in urging public policy that is critical for pharmacies’ operational efficiencies, today’s challenges amid a lingering global pandemic would be even more daunting. With virtually all industries confronting employee shortages, and particularly challenging environments throughout all healthcare settings, government actions urged and secured throughout the pandemic are proving essential. These include enhanced roles for pharmacy technicians and interns, the ability to put patients over paperwork, opportunities to leverage technology, and more. Pharmacy flexibilities and authorities put into place during the pandemic should not be rolled back, but rather expanded.

In addition, government leadership is sorely needed to ensure pharmacies can continue to be there for Americans in times of need from family emergencies to global pandemics. Much has been made of the statement: “there is a pharmacy within five miles of 90 percent of Americans.” However, unworkable and unsustainable pharmacy reimbursement models, which jeopardize pharmacies of all sizes and formats, risk the public health assets that came through when the nation needed them most.

Even as the industry advocates for the public policy that is needed for pharmacies’ viability and to leverage their full value for all Americans, the industry continues to innovate. The pandemic accelerated health and wellness trends. NACDS members are defining their future of service to the American people amid emerging dynamics in self-care, telehealth, home healthcare, holistic care, multidisciplinary health and wellness, creative partnerships, digital, the focus on preventive care, and more.

Put simply, pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare, and given the chance they will meet Americans’ health and wellness needs in new and exciting ways.

Key Stat

  • 92 percent of all COVID-19 vaccines got to Americans’ arms through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.