Whether following federal guidelines or custom protocols, most states nationwide are beginning to reopen for business. Some health experts have expressed concerns about the unfolding timeline, but many small business owners are desperate to open their doors and move past this crisis.
Research from the US Chamber of Commerce reveals that roughly a quarter of the small businesses in America closed down during the pandemic. Sales declines were widely reported, with 84% of small business owners feeling stressed about how their businesses will survive.
“Regionally, small businesses in the West (where the COVID-19 outbreak was first reported) are a bit more pessimistic than others,” the US Chamber of Commerce’s report explains. “Just 20% agree the US economy is in good health (compared to 24% in the Northeast, 25% in the Midwest, and 29% in the South). Across industries, businesses in the service industry are deeply concerned about the economic environment.”
On the flip side, a quarter of small businesses have plans to hire more employees within the next year. How can some businesses be in growth mode when the past few months have disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives?
“With the US business landscape radically changed in the past few weeks due to coronavirus, the majority of stories people are hearing concern businesses closing or laying off workers,” says the report. “However, some small businesses are uniquely suited to the COVID-19 crisis and have seen an uptick in demand.”
This phenomenon shouldn’t come as a surprise. Extreme situations always bring extra attention to specific products. For example, oscillating fans and sunglasses often fly off the shelves during a heat wave. And flashlights reach new heights of popularity after earthquakes.
Here’s a quick look at some of the products that will likely enjoy new popularity as we transition into a post-COVID world.
1. Video games: When people stay indoors and must avoid gatherings such as concerts and sporting events, another activity needs to fill the void. In many cases, that replacement is a video game.
One of the most popular gaming franchises is Call of Duty. It’s been around for years—long enough to experience some possible sales decline. But “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” has had higher recent sales than any of the other games in the franchise. It brought in more than $1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2020, a 21% year-over-year increase.
Games from series Madden NFL and FIFA have exploded for Electronic Arts, driving a 12% boost in revenue. And Nintendo reported a 41% profit increase, thanks to smash hits like “Animal Crossing.” January through March was a brutal slog for many businesses, but Nintendo saw its profit triple in those months year-over-year.
While much of this growth has been attributed to the lockdown, it’s expected to continue even as regulations are lightened.
2. Contactless payment systems: The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that public spaces are dirty and difficult to sanitize consistently. Chief among these threats are cash registers, which have been called “the most dangerous place in the store.” Efforts to avoid checkout systems that require you to punch buttons, sign your name, and perform other hands-on functions are causing small businesses to pursue contactless options. And the businesses that have implemented them are seeing positive results.
“There are many uncertainties about how the coronavirus will impact people’s health, their jobs, and the economy, but some consumer trends have already become so obvious that they suggest a long-lasting shift in people’s behavior when the COVID-19 crisis finally departs,” says CNET. “One of them is the move toward contactless transactions in the US getting supercharged, as shoppers try to restrict what they touch in stores—if they go out at all—to avoid catching the virus […]. Now retailers that remain open are scrambling to respond to this new consumer need.”
The rise of contactless payments in the United States will likely echo what has been seen in other countries, where heightened demand has driven innovation and made even better products available to small businesses.
3. Sanitization products: Dealing with a nasty virus that can live up to 3 days on surfaces has granted cleaning products a new level of importance. Small businesses and homeowners alike are scooping up cleaners, wipes, and other items that can simplify their sanitizing efforts and improve safety.
“Clorox said last week its overall sales jumped 15% for the first quarter,” explains a Mercury News report. “Sales of Clorox’s cleaning segment, which includes its wipes and beaches, jumped 32% […]. Reckitt Benckiser, the British company that makes Lysol and Dettol, is also seeing record sales. First-quarter sales rose 13.5% because of ‘strong consumer demand’ for disinfectants.”
With the threat of future waves of illness, it’s predicted that an emphasis on cleanliness and safety will continue unabated in the post-COVID world. Thus, it’s likely that sanitization products will remain in demand.
4. Indoor exercise equipment: As Americans avoid gyms, basketball courts, and other workout areas, home-based fitness equipment has become more popular. This increased demand will continue to rise in the future—and setting up your home with workout equipment can give you the added freedom of being able to exercise however and whenever you want.
Remember how Peloton was mocked for its infamous holiday ad featuring a concerned-looking woman trying to exercise for her husband? The company seems to be having the last laugh, as Business Insider reports that sales are up 66%. Other brands that sell stationary bikes, treadmills, steppers, rowers, and related equipment have also seen bumps to their bottom line.
While the post-COVID recovery will bring challenges for everyone, it’s clear that certain industries are better suited for these times than others. Regardless of what kind of business you own, however, don’t allow yourself to feel powerless. It’s crucial for you to identify some key recovery strategies now to build momentum for the days ahead.