When it comes to post-pandemic performance, the consumer packaged goods sector has emerged relatively weakly in the second quarter of this year.

In the three months to the end of June, CPG activity levels were 11% higher than the same period to the end of 2019, prior to the arrival of the global pandemic. However, of the 18 industries featured in GlobalData’s analysis, the CPG sector ranks 12th in terms of its latest value for COVID-19 activity recovery.

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Healthcare saw the highest sector activity levels in Q2 2021 compared to the last quarter of 2019, with the automotive, technology and apparel sectors making up the rest of the top four.

GlobalData's sector activity metric is derived from several of its research datasets. The composite index uses a combination of company-level data on job advertisements, deals, stock prices and sentiment analysis across financial filings and news reports.

One of the more traditional measures of tracking company - and industry - performance is through the value of company stocks. After a dip in Spring 2020, the average sector has been performing above pre-pandemic levels since early August 2020. However, the extent of each sector's recovery varies.

Generally, CPG stocks have underperformed the wider market in the past year, as highlighted above. By the end of June this year, stocks in CPG companies - as tracked by GlobalData - were almost 24% above their level in October 2019.

Hiring levels are also useful in determining how confident companies feel about the months ahead. GlobalData's jobs index tracks job openings across a raft of companies on a daily basis, allowing an assessment of industry confidence in real-time and a gauge of which sectors are feeling COVID's impact the hardest.

The number of open job advertisements in CPG is currently lower than most other industries, relative to pre-pandemic norms. That said, by 20 June - the latest date for which data is available - hiring levels were 16.4% higher than those recorded prior to the pandemic. The CPG sector ranks 16th out of the 18 in GlobalData's analysis.

In addition to stocks and jobs, the composite index also factors deals into account, tracking mergers & acquisitions as well as private equity and venture capital transactions. The higher the number of deals, the more optimistic the industry's outlook.

While having risen slightly since pre-COVID - in June this year, CPG deals were 9% higher than October 2019 - the volume of CPG transactions has been lower than most other industries over the past 19 months. This places the sector tenth out of 18 on current deal volume recovery.