Sales of Subscription Services Skyrocketed during the Pandemic

June 24, 2021

Last year, companies across all industries scrambled to figure out how to continue doing business during the coronavirus pandemic. As time went on, subscription services proved to be dependable profit sources given that they required customers to provide regular payments every month. Subscriptions to streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus skyrocketed in 2020 while many restaurants also found success with membership models. 

For instance, in early 2021 six eateries in the Washington, D.C., area joined forces to create a subscription-based supper club. Over the course of a month and a half, customers would receive a gourmet meal prepared by a different chef each week for $360. The promotion sold out in six days. “This was really about flipping the business model for restaurants: paying before eating instead of eating before paying,” said Vinay Gupta, a winemaker who played a key role in developing the supper club. 

While subscription services had been rising in popularity pre-pandemic, the trend picked up considerable steam as consumers remained in their homes for extended periods of time. According to the financial services firm UBS, the “subscription economy” is expected to double in size to $1.5 trillion by 2025. Along with providing businesses with revenue up-front, subscriptions also create deeper relationships with customers and produce tons of consumer data for companies. At the same time, it’s possible that some Americans could become overburdened with costs as their subscriptions stack up. In fact, data from the budgeting app Truebill found that users typically spend an average of $145 per month across approximately 17 subscriptions. During the pandemic, the average increased to 21 monthly subscriptions. 


  1. What sort of benefits do subscription services provide for both businesses and consumers?
  2. Do you think consumers could become overburdened by subscription costs in the future? Why or why not?

Source: Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam, “Everything’s Becoming a Subscription, and the Pandemic Is Partly to Blame,” The Washington Post, June 1, 2021.