Which Companies Did Well During The Coronavirus Pandemic?
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the American economy and hit small businesses particularly hard. For instance, the woes of the restaurant industry are particularly well known. In states where indoor dining still has not returned, restaurants have struggled.
Some were able to survive the storm better than others. Fine dining establishments cannot provide the same experiences as they do in their own restaurants. After all, who wants their $40 meal delivered in a Styrofoam container? If part of the allure was the experience of actually eating at places like Le Bernardin in Manhattan or The French Laundry in the Napa Valley, that charm cannot be recreated at home. Further, many restaurants generate big profits on markups on cocktails and bottles of wine. This was not possible during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Since indoor dining was shuttered in mid-March, meals to-go became the lifeline for many restaurateurs. Takeout and delivery skyrocketed, as people sheltering-in-place sought alternatives to cooking at home. According to Barron’s, services such as DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats gained customers during the pandemic. Meanwhile, some eateries benefited as the community rallied behind them and ordered meals that were then donated to hospital and healthcare “front line” workers. Other restaurants got creative by offering family meal packages, “take-home kits,” and other specials.
Many independently owned restaurants took advantage of the PPP lending, administered by the Treasury Department and the SBA. This funding helped keep restaurants alive during the pandemic. Now that PPP is ending, business owners are able to apply for loan forgiveness. Essentially, the money will wind up being a grant from the government. However, it still may not be enough to save restaurants in places like New York City, which still has not fully reopened its economy. Up to 85% of independently owned restaurants could close due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
Gyms face unique challenges. How can people who want to exert energy by running on a treadmill be able to do so while wearing a mask? How would gym owners possibly be able to ensure that every member wipes off the equipment they have just used? It will be particularly challenging because a sizable part of gym clientele are young adults who seem less concerned about catching the virus than people age 30 and above.
Brick-and-mortar retailers, which have been ceding ground to online retailers for years, lost out tremendously as even shoppers who like to go to malls and browse were no longer able to do so. The ease of online purchasing and shipping proved beneficial not only to those who were accustomed to online shopping, but also for those, like retirees, who previously were less inclined to order merchandise over the web.
Despite the well-documented plight of some industries, others have been boomed during the pandemic.
Online retailers have indeed fared well during the pandemic. Amazon continues to be a juggernaut. While the company’s sales growth has been impressive for the past decade, Amazon received a big boost from the quarantine as consumers could not go to stores to make purchases. On March 12, the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, the company’s stock price closed at $1,676.61. By the end of June, it was nearly $1,000 higher than it was just a few months prior.
Out of necessity, businesses are increasingly moving to more remote and flexible workforces. According to Gartner, nearly a quarter of CFOs said they will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions. As workforces go remote, having the right collaborative technology and security have become a top priority for executives.
"While many companies viewed it as a short-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of companies are realizing that remote work must be part of their long-term plans, as it will enable them to attract the talent they need to operate in the unpredictable business environment we’ll be functioning in for the foreseeable future," said Tim Minahan, Executive VP of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer for Citrix (Nasdaq: CTXS) a global digital workspace leader that provides computer software and cloud computing technologies to businesses.
Zoom became a video conferencing leader during COVID-19. In fact, Zoom’s adoption rate surpassed previous industry frontrunners GoToWebinar and Cisco during the past three months when companies scheduled virtual meetings when it became impossible to host in-person gatherings.
A perfect storm of events helped lift the supermarket industry. Restaurant closures meant that people who normally eat out would instead have to make their own dinners. Even with stay-at-home orders in place, supermarkets remained open as “essential businesses.” People who were out of work tried cooking on their own, and social media was filled with photos and videos of amateur bakers making breads, cakes, and other treats. Prices rose, as people feared shortages, and demand went up. Additionally, food stores did not have to rely so heavily on couponing and other price promotions to get customers in the door.
Chicago-based Terraboost Media prides itself as being a “purpose-driven” Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising agency that built a network of more than 72,000 hand-sanitizing billboards that dispense wipes and/or a dose of sanitizer along its advertisers’ messages to consumers entering major supermarket chains, grocery stores, and pharmacies.
During the pandemic, the number of hand-sanitizing kiosks has grown to 90,000 nationwide and is expected to approach 150,000 kiosks by the end of the year. The privately held company is providing hand-sanitizing products for mass transportation and expects to add several colleges and universities as schools look to prepare for the fall semester. Terraboost has had to dramatically increase its production to keep up with demand from its existing customers and others that are looking for hand-sanitizing solutions.
“The hand-sanitizing billboards are unlike others; they are totally functional. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: the retailer, the advertiser, and the consumer who benefits from using the wipes,” said Brian Morrison, Terraboost Media’s CEO, who estimates that 126 million people per day engage with Terraboost Media’s hand-sanitizing billboards, resulting in 3.7 billion monthly impressions.
“In today’s current environment, people are using them everywhere they go. It’s guaranteed engagement; almost every person uses a wipe. The engagement is almost equal to foot traffic,” Morrison added. “The hand sanitizing billboards reach a vast audience, and 94% of shoppers have positive opinion of company sponsoring them.”
It is well documented that home alcohol consumption rose during the pandemic as stressed out parents worried about their employment status and the added responsibility of home-schooling their children as they tried to work. Liquor stores were designated as essential businesses, and people starving for socialization began hosting virtual cocktail parties via Zoom. With flexible schedule schedules and many people out of work, cocktail hour did not have to wait until 5:00 p.m.
Netflix, added nearly 16 million new subscribers during the first quarter of 2020, and its growth numbers more than doubled what the company predicted January. Q1’20 was the largest three-month jump in the streaming service’s 13-year history, as people looked for entertainment options while theaters, cinemas, nightclubs, and concert venues went dark… and still have not fully returned.