Industries performing best and worst during COVID-19—and how they're responding
The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world has ushered in massive changes to the way people live their daily lives. Offices have shuttered, and those who can work remotely are working from home. Bars, restaurants, and theaters have also been forced to close, and those who were employed serving food, beverages, or entertainment are now searching for new ways to make up their lost income. Schools have by and large suspended classes for the rest of the academic year, and students are now remote-learning, with assistance from technology like Zoom. And hospitals are deluged in parts of the country with coronavirus cases, while other medical procedures and appointments have been put on hold.
It would be difficult to overstate the degree to which these massive shake-ups in American society have impacted the economy. Fears of a recession loom over many industries and many Americans have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, leading to record unemployment numbers.
But not all industries are impacted equally by COVID-19. Some industries that provide goods or services for people remaining in their homes are experiencing a surge in revenue due to the virus, as are financial planners and lawyers, who are tasked with helping people through times of uncertainty and crisis.
On the other end of the spectrum, industries that rely on gatherings of people or face-to-face interaction have shuttered for the foreseeable future, leading to a steep decline in revenue and financial uncertainty. Many workers like bartenders, hairstylists, and stagehands are impacted by social distancing and the mass closures of nonessential businesses.
Stacker compiled a list of the industries most and least impacted by COVID-19 using data from Womply. The data shows average changes in weekly revenue for each industry year over year as of May 19, 2020 (data released May 22), with industries ranked from best- to worst-performing.
#21. Food and beverage shops
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: +76%
One of the most significant changes coronavirus has brought to daily life is the closing of bars and restaurants across the country. Without the option to eat or drink at restaurants or bars, food and beverage shops are seeing an uptick in sales as people sate their hunger and thirst in their own homes. COVID-19 and ensuing lockdowns also drove panic-buyers to start hoarding groceries back in February.
#20. Public services and government places
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: +23%
With mass unemployment wrought by the closure of many businesses, stimulus checks sent out to Americans from the Treasury, and health care systems stretched to capacity, it's no surprise there has been an uptick for government services. Government and public services are hiring additional workers to handle increased demand, including employing hundreds of new workers to handle unemployment cases in New York.
[Pictured: Eddie Rodriguez and other City of Hialeah employees hand out unemployment application on April 8 in Hialeah, Florida.]
#19. Retail and wholesale businesses
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: +9%
While shops across the country are shuttering their doors due to the coronavirus, people are still spending on physical goods. One trend that may be driving retail purchases? Quarantined Americans are purchasing new home goods to upgrade their dwelling-places.
#18. Pet services
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: +6%
On first blush, it may seem unlikely that pet services would increase during a time of social distancing when dog walkers and dog daycares have stopped their typical tending to their customers' pets. But owners taking closer care of their own pets stuck at home may be struck with the urge to get their pets new toys to contend with cabin fever, while others may suddenly be struck with the urge to foster a pet of their own to get through the isolation that comes with social distancing.
#17. Educational institutions
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: +5%
Schools across the country have shuttered in response to the coronavirus, but this hasn't stopped a slight increase in educational institution revenue. One possible reason? The boom in online learning, fueled by companies like Zoom, which offer virtual classrooms for children learning from home.
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#16. Professional services
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: +4%
Professional services is an industry encompassing a broad spectrum of industries, including lawyers, accountants, and financial planners. With the coronavirus causing mass uncertainty in Americans' economic lives and fears of a recession looming, professionals trained to help people manage finances are seeing a surge in demand for their services.
#15. Religious organizations
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: -8%
The impact of times of crisis and uncertainty on religious attitudes and behaviors is a topic of study and debate. While some may turn to religion to get through difficult times, the practical realities of social distancing have closed church doors to gatherings and precipitated a drop in revenue due to the simple fact that services can no longer be held in many places.
#14. Local services
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: -16%
With nonessential businesses closing to promote social distancing, local services are seeing declining revenues. Trips to local service providers like tailors, florists, and nail salons will have to wait to reopen their doors until it is medically safe to do so and are losing revenue because they have no customers to serve.
#13 (tied). Auto services
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: -19%
With social distancing closing offices and canceling social gatherings across the country, Americans are driving less than they were before coronavirus hit. With less time spent behind the wheels of their cars, there is simply less need for Americans to get auto services right now.
#13 (tied). Health care and medical centers
- Change in weekly revenue year-over-year: -19%
It may seem surprising that during a medical pandemic, medical centers are losing revenue. But a closer look reveals one reason why revenue may be declining: the cancellation of voluntary procedures, in addition to long-scheduled surgeries, to make room for COVID-19 patients.
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