The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses across the nation, with many having to shut their doors due to lockdown and social distancing rules. Many businesses, particularly those in the hospitality, tourism, leisure, and retail industries have been affected and the virus has come at a huge cost to the global economy.
With schools, shops and restaurants shut, people were confined to their homes for months. And even now as things slowly begin to reopen, many are choosing to forgo busy public spaces and places where the virus could easily spread and stay at home instead.
But despite many businesses struggling in the wake of COVID-19, some niches were able to thrive both during and after lockdown and the ongoing pandemic. For example, people stuck at home were having to rely solely on online shopping to get a number of different products. So what niches are thriving as we come out of lockdown and try to return to some sort of normal life?
1. Health and fitness
In a bid to stop the spread of the virus, most public spaces were closed and gyms were no exception (and with large groups of sweaty gym-goers sharing equipment, showers, studios and swimming pools, is it any wonder?). But this closure in gyms and exercise classes meant that people had to find another way to stay fit.
This was made even more challenging by the fact that lockdown meant individuals should only take outdoor exercise once a day, for half an hour. This led to a huge surge in people creating at home gyms and buying health and fitness equipment.
Not to mention the increased emphasis on keeping yourself healthy meant people begun to take their diet more seriously, with more people having time to prepare fresh meals now they were at home all day. This meant plenty of health and nutritional products including foods, books, apps and cooking equipment also saw sales jumping.
So though many sports and leisure centers have now begun putting up screens and limiting the numbers of guests they have in order to reopen their doors, many people still prefer to get their endorphins flowing at home instead of risking a public space. As such, this boom in the health and fitness industry isn’t going anywhere and will continue to thrive even post-coronavirus.
Unable to go shopping unless it was for essentials, many businesses sprang into action making sure they could put safety measures in place that allowed them to keep trading online. The result of which was a huge boom in the E-commerce niche. This wasn’t just limited to buying food and clothes either. Remote service providers such as online fitness classes, E-learning resources, video communication apps and many other digital services became a lifeline to those stuck at home.
Many traditional brick and mortar companies looked to CMS website builders such as WordPress and Shopfiy to establish a quick online presence and open themselves up to a new market. For lots of businesses it has been an eye-opener, showing them that e-commerce is a viable avenue for them and introducing them to new tools like Google Analytics and Reveal which takes a lot of the guesswork out of where their customers are and what they are looking for.
With children still not back at school and many still working from home, this reliance on digital services is likely to continue long after COVID-19, offering a safe and convenient alternative to visiting unsafe or crowded public spaces.
3. Food and drink
Baking, cooking, barbecuing, and drinking all became a source of fun during lockdown as people had more free time at home than ever before. Plus going out to restaurants and pubs just wasn’t an option anymore, so many began to experiment with making fresh home-cooked meals each day, baking cakes (do you remember the banana bread craze?) and enjoying drinks and barbecues in the garden during the heatwave.
This inability to eat and drink out saw a huge surge in the sales of food and drink, in particular the sales of alcohol sky-rocketed during this time.
However, many hospitality establishments have begun to reopen and are very happy to be able to welcome guests through their doors once again. The only problem is, most have a much smaller capacity as they have to abide by the two-meter social distancing rule and ensure they don’t overcrowd their establishments.
This means that people are still being encouraged to enjoy drinking and dining at home as much as possible and in some cases, they may find they’re struggling to get reservations for their favorite restaurants as they operate on limited seating capacity. This will see the sales of food and drink continue to rise throughout the summer and into the post COVID-19 future.
Going into lockdown, not just in the UK but many other places across the globe, meant that thousands had their travel plans cancelled at the start of the year. And despite things easing, holidays abroad are still looking unlikely with quarantine periods, local lockdowns and the spread of the virus shrouding the travel and tourism industry in uncertainty.
But after months of staying at home, people were ready to get away and see somewhere new, even if they couldn’t hop on a plane to do it. This has seen a huge boom in the recreation niche, with the likes of camping, hiking, cycling and water sports equipment seeing an increase in sales. It’s clear that many want to get outdoors and begin enjoying their freedom again. It also suggests that many will be holidaying locally this year, opting for a staycation instead of risking the trip overseas.
Last but certainly not least, the technology industry saw a boost in sales this year with many relying heavily on technology to allow them to work, home-school and stay connected during lockdown. This initial boost was likely due to people trying to continue working and running their businesses from home, the need to educate their children (with many school resources now available online) and families and friends relying on video technology and apps to keep them connected remotely.
But as people continue to work from home despite lockdown lifting, the technology industry will continue to thrive. Similarly, with people still unable to socialize freely or travel long distances to see friends and family, many will rely on their smartphones, tablets, laptops and apps just as much as they have in recent months.
Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at IrishParcels.ie a courier comparison service that aims to take the hassle and expense out of the shipping process for e-commerce businesses.