Since 23 March this year when high street stores, bars, restaurants and offices closed their doors simultaneously and the world battened down the hatches to defend against the silent but deadly Coronavirus threat, business and commerce has undergone something of a tectonic shift.
Traditional retail has been hit hard, and the travel industry – airlines, cruise ships, tourism in general – might never fully recover, with job losses running into the hundreds of thousands. Not to mention the oil giants who have felt the pinch (BP shares are currently worth around half what they were in January) since most of us stopped, well, moving around quite so much.
On the other side of the tracks, Amazon has recruited over 100,000 new staff whilst streaming giants Netflix are making money hand over fist. Then there’s Zoom, the videoconferencing app which nobody had heard of in January but which everyone is now using for office meetings, group chats with family members and quiz nights with friends, which everyone (somewhat inexplicably) seems to have gone bonkers for since this all began.
Some of these changes are likely to endure, as consumers continue to gravitate towards online shopping, and social and working habits adjust to the ongoing threat of contagion. Many businesses are likely to continue to embrace the flexible working culture of recent months, affording staff more freedom to work from home in the future. Time will tell.
But what’s really interesting is the stealth winners of the coronavirus pandemic. The businesses which have thrived whilst others have stalled, and which nobody is talking about.
Since the world went into lockdown, home improvements never seemed so appealing (don’t even get me started on gardening). If you haven’t been redecorating your own house, then chances are you’ve been speaking to someone who has. The result? Demand for paint and home improvement items has reached new heights. Consumer favourite Dulux has been forced to limit paint purchases after a surge in demand, whilst luxury brand Farrow & Ball has reported growth nudging into the double digits. Elephant’s Breath all round, then.
Camping and Outdoor
It’s been reported that this sector is experiencing something of a purple patch, with 500% growth since the onset of the pandemic. Let’s face it, most of us weren’t particularly excited about the prospect of cramming ourselves onto a germ-ridden aeroplane and jetting off to the Costas – even before the Foreign Office advised against it – so for many, 2020 has been the year to invest in a decent tent and a couple of blow-up mattresses and enjoy a more socially-distanced holiday. Perhaps Coronavirus is what the ailing camping and outdoor sector needed to lure us all away from our pampered, luxury holidays and obsession with sunshine, and re-introduce us to something a bit more, well, basic. Now, who brought the bug spray?
Toys and Games
Perhaps this one’s not so surprising. Despite high street names like The Entertainer struggling to stay afloat, internet sales helped the UK toy sector enjoy a 17% increase in sales during lockdown. Games and puzzles experienced a renaissance, whilst sales of outdoor toys also boomed during the month of May (with Swingball inexplicably making a strong return). Of course, most of us were struggling to entertain bored kids at home, so a bit of extra dosh spent on toys was money well spent. But let’s be honest, we’d all forgotten how much fun Pictionary was, right?
Avoiding public transport – wherever and whenever possible – is key to survival in a post-Covid landscape. Which is one of the reasons why the humble bicycle has made a strong comeback in recent months. Or more specifically, the bicycle’s not-so-humble cousin, the e-Bike . Cycling as a hobby was already on the up-and-up, but since the beginning of the pandemic it’s become more popular than ever. And with an increasing number of people still working from home, we’re also enjoying the pleasing reality of cycling with far fewer cars on the road. The e-Bike market is booming, air pollution levels are on the way down and e-Bikers are getting all the fresh air they need.
The logistics and home delivery sector has pretty much been making hay since the beginning of the pandemic. Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainaio has been instrumental in delivering essential medical and PPE supplies worldwide whilst from shipping companies to couriers, medical and food deliveries, the sector has been under immense pressure to scale rapidly in order to meet massive increases in demand. And the effect of this has been pretty far-reaching, as the equipment and mechanical components used by the industry – for example conveyor belts – have also been subjected to the same increases in demand.
What happens now?
In the wake of Covid-19 and the ongoing challenges presented to the world of industry, innovation and improvement are more important than ever before. Which means our goods, services, machines , e-Bikes and everything in between, must be the very best that they can be.
In order to meet consumer needs in this constantly-changing landscape, we need to make sure we’re using the best tech available; employing solutions which feature the very latest developments in mechanical engineering to disrupt and improve upon existing design.
The world is on the brink of a new industrial revolution in mobility and automation. If, like us, you’re all about embracing innovation, design and advancement to find the best solutions possible, then let’s have a conversation.