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Retail and consumer

U.S. sector spotlight

The Sedgwick brand protection recall index is the essential reference for consumer product manufacturers and retailers seeking impartial and reliable perspective on past, present, and future product recall data and safety trends.

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The total number of U.S. consumer products recalled in 2021 more than doubled, from 20.1 million (in 2020) to 42.8 million.

The latest edition of our highly coveted product recall index report offers a comprehensive year-in-review of 2021 consumer product recall data and trends, and insightful predictions for the remainder of 2022. It is the only report of its kind that aggregates and tracks essential data to help consumer product business leaders mitigate litigation and reputational damage caused by product recalls and other in-market product incidents.

While we strongly recommend you download and read the whole index, the following excerpt provides a glimpse into the key insights and analysis from the consumer product sector.

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+113%

product recalls rose in 2021

26%

sports/recreation: most recalled category

42M

impacted consumer product units in 2021

The U.S. consumer product landscape

As 2021 closed, consumer product manufacturers were looking ahead at the myriad of regulations set to take effect in January 2022. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) seems to be looking for ways to make reporting easier for businesses, there is no sign that they are pulling back on the aggressive stance they have taken on compliance and enforcement.

But the CPSC is not only using its regulatory power. The agency is also clearly committed to ensuring that businesses take a holistic approach to notifying consumers about product recalls, using the power of public opinion to coerce action. Additionally, the agency is trying to force e-commerce companies and other retailers to play an active role in executing product recalls, as well as boosting their accountability for the disposition of those products recalled. It seems that the CPSC may increase its demands for proof this step was taken, something all consumer product companies should prepare for.

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Recall index report

Get unrivaled analysis and perspective on the latest consumer product safety trends and regulation.

Download the report

By the numbers: 2021 U.S. consumer product recalls

The consumer product industry saw its lowest level of activity in the past five years, with only 218 product recall events in 2021. The CPSC announced 47 recalls in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is significantly lower than the volume of quarterly averages observed in 2019 and 2020, and a drop from Q3 2021 as well.

Fourth-quarter product recalls impacted 2.7 million units, representing an 87.5% drop compared to the previous quarter. This is unsurprising given that Q3 saw an atypical recall of toy magnet products that alone accounted for 10 million units. However, in contrast, when looking at total annual units impacted, 2021 experienced a significant uplift on the year previous, more than doubling from 20.1 million units, to 42.8 million units.

After seeing the highest number of quarterly incidents in several years in Q3, the number of product recall events dropped by 91.4% to 544 in the fourth quarter. Injuries also dropped from 150 to 49, though the number of deaths allegedly linked to recalled products rose slightly, from 9 to 10.

The recall of 873,000 bed rails in three separate events led to a bad quarter for Home Furnishings and Décor products. That category had the most incidents, (255), injuries (22) and reported deaths (7). Sports and Recreation and Home Furnishings and Décor products tied for the most impacted product category with 13 recalls, or 28% of the total, each. Home Furnishings and Décor products were also the leading categories of recalled units at 1.4 million (54.7%).

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Recall index report

Get unrivaled analysis and perspective on the latest consumer product safety trends and regulation.

Download the report

2022 strategic considerations

While product recall numbers are important, they are only part of the story. Here's what you should take away from consumer product safety developments in 2022:

  • With the CPSC’s aggressive approach to oversight and enforcement, companies need to be thinking about their product recall and corrective action plans from end-to-end. Have you closely reviewed your plans, processes, and procedures? Can you clearly show that you have removed dangerous products from circulation and not just refunded consumers?
  • The agency’s new budget for fiscal year 2022 provides a nearly 25% increase for the Office of Communication, which may be a sign that the CPSC is planning more frequent outreach to businesses and consumers. Have you considered how this will affect your company in the long run? What steps are you taking now to prepare for increased scrutiny and oversight in the future?
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Recall index report

Get unrivaled analysis and perspective on the latest consumer product safety trends and regulation.

Download the report

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Whether you’re planning for — or currently facing — a product recall, market withdrawal or any other in-market product incident, our experts are on hand to support you.

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