The New COVID-19 Economy

The New COVID-19 Economy


Rita Das

The world is in a state of shock. COVID-19 spread as quickly as it started and doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. Countries around the globe have instituted statewide (or even nationwide) quarantines and lockdowns, affecting every single industry – from healthcare to fitness to food.

The retail landscape is changing drastically, and not just for brick-and-mortar stores but for the entire eCommerce industry as well.

Below are a few trends I’ve been seeing across various industries.

Tough Times for the Food Industry

I live in California where the “shelter in place” order started mid-March. Since then, we’ve only been permitted to leave our homes for errands considered “essential” (or if our jobs were in one of the essential
businesses). One industry I’m seeing being hit particularly hard is the food industry. Restaurants are either closed or only able to offer curbside pick-up. Bars are completely closed. Grocery stores seem to be out of stock of many items most of the time.

I think the food industry is actually being very creative in their tactics. I’m seeing restaurants selling food boxes stocked with perishables. Since they now can’t sell enough of their food stock and don’t want it to go bad, they are offering it to local residents. And a local Mexican restaurant is even going so far as selling margaritas for curbside pick-up.

But the long-term question is, with the world having to switch from physical to digital overnight, where will the food industry be once people can leave their homes again?

Disruptions in eCommerce

Ever since the shelter-in-place orders were put in motion, online giants like Amazon have been inundated with orders. But the result is that they’ve been sold out of many essentials. I tried to buy some hair products – certainly non-essential – and the earliest they were available for shipping was more than
a month away. As a result, I switched to shopping directly on the various brands’ websites themselves.

So we’re seeing something interesting: Brands that previously may have relied on Amazon for a large portion of their sales (or even tried to compete with them) have instead had to rely on their own eCommerce infrastructure to keep sales flowing.

And that’s without even mentioning the brick-and-mortar retailers that have had to switch entirely to a digital-only model to survive. These are momentous changes.

Fitness Industry goes "Phygital"

The fitness industry is an interesting case, as so many companies have been blending workout equipment with digitally streaming of classes for years now – a blending of the physical and digital known as “phygital.”

But with physical gyms being forced to close, every fitness company now has had to innovate. CorePower Yoga is one example. Previously, they charged $160/month for unlimited classes but now they offer a digital model at $19.99/month so members can keep attending classes while at home.

My prediction: Even when we eliminate COVID-19 and can go out again, these studios will continue offering virtual classes. It just makes good sense to maintain this virtual option.

Be Prepared

There’s still so much uncertainty around COVID-19. How long will it last? When will things return to normal? And when they do what will the new normal even be?

All I can say is this: It’s more clear than ever that we live in a world where literally every business is going digital. And we all need to be prepared.

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