With everyone spending so much time at home last year, it’s not surprising that activities like cooking, doing puzzles and reading became exponentially more popular, but now the numbers are in to prove it.

According to a survey released by the US Department of Labor, total reading time in American households increased by more than 21 percent in May-December, compared to 2019.

For men, time spent reading rose 30 percent, while for women, time spent reading rose only 18 percent. The biggest increase in time spent reading was recorded among 20 to 34-year-olds, and readers over 65.

Among the upper middle class—those in the 50th to 75th percentile of weekly earnings—the jump was an astounding 131%, the longest time spent reading among all groups. People with higher education (at least a bachelor’s degree) increased their reading time by 24%.

It’s good news for publishers that consumers have cultivated a new habit of reading, and we’re not just talking about romance novels and thrillers – catalog reading increased as well.

According to Total Retail, consumer catalog businesses saw a significant increase in the way people shopped during the coronavirus — known as “the COVID factor.”

The article explained: “The increase varied by product category. Those companies selling food and gifts, for example, have been challenged to keep up with the demand… we’ve seen an increase in the rate of response and revenue per catalog from various buyer files…”

And the article went on to assert that “some of the changes we’ve made will revert back to the old way of doing things once the virus passes. Many of the changes will remain at least for an extended period of time.”

While the circumstances surrounding the pandemic have changed since 2020, consumers are still spending more time at home (many people are now working remotely for the foreseeable future). People also have more discretionary income and they have gotten in the habit of catalog shopping – conditions are ripe for catalog success.