Number of the Day

The Pivot to Face Masks, by the Numbers

There’s a boom now, but the bust can’t be far behind

Photo illustration, source: Noah/Unsplash

$6 billion: That’s the potential U.S. market for face masks in 2021, according to KeyBanc. But as Adam Bluestein pointed out recently in Marker, with sellers from Gap to Vistaprint to Etsy crafters pivoting to masks as a fresh revenue stream, and masks “now available at every Home Depot, gas station, convenience store, and, yes, even vending machine,” it’s clear that we’re closing in on Peak Mask.

Bluestein traces how this happened — and looks ahead to how the end of the mask boom might shake out. When business card maker Vistaprint started offering masks in April, he reports, they sold at the rate of one every five seconds. And for some beleaguered apparel companies, demand for anything they could manufacture was a lifeline. But at some point, there will be a vaccine, and while masks may continue to be part of our de facto wardrobe, we’ll need only so many. The hundreds of companies betting it all on mask demand will have to find a new way forward — and for some, that will mean finding a new way to stop the bleeding.

Face it: We all yearn to be unmasked.

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