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Demand for wipes in the U.S. is forecast to rise 5.1% per year to $2.5 billion in 2016, according to a trends report called “Wipes” from The Freedonia Group. The report also notes sales of wipes will be aided by ongoing improvements in the economy and will continue to benefit from features such as ease of use, disposability, portability and reduced risk of cross-contamination. While disposability has been a primary advantage in the growth of wipes, it also has the potential to restrain sales as more consumers become attuned to environmental concerns. And the 2007–2009 recession appears to have had an ongoing impact on buying habits in the consumer wipes segment. During this time, consumers economized by using private label wipes (limiting value sales at the retail level), by shifting away from task-specific wipes to general-purpose products, or by returning to traditional cleaning methods.
Going forward, convenience, consumer acceptance and innovation will remain driving forces in the consumer market, with personal hygiene and general purpose household cleaning wipes projected to register the fastest gains. Personal hygiene wipes will enjoy increased market penetration; the concept of wet bathroom tissue as part of a standard bathroom routine is gaining acceptance especially because the industry has become diligent in developing not only flushable but also dispersible products. Growth in general purpose disinfectant wipes will be propelled by the appeal of one-step cleaning, and the large and more established baby wipes category is primarily driven by gains in the infant population. Further growth will be slowed as many consumers who used less expensive baby wipes for non-diaper applications during the recession return to task-specific wipes as conditions improve.
The industrial wipes market will continue to improve from its lackluster performance during the 2007–2009 recession, benefiting from an acceleration in manufacturing activity through 2016. As such, wipes geared toward the manufacturing market are projected to achieve above-average gains through the forecast period. In addition, demand for industrial wipes will benefit from product innovations and expanding applications. Among industrial wipes, manufacturing and health care types will remain the two largest segments.