There are lots of questions out there about what our economy is going to look like once businesses have the chance reopen. While the only right answer is that we have to wait and see, economists and other commentators are already making guesses about how Americans consumption patterns will change as the result of COVID-19.
With millions of Americans out of work, cultural change as the result of social distancing and the looming threat of catching COVID-19, there's no question that we won't be going out and spending our money in the same way we were when the year began. While shut downs have already irreparably damaged many businesses, changes in consumption over the course of the next months and maybe even years will leave their mark on industries, too. Here are the industries experts believe will be forever changed by COVID-19 and some of the changes you can expect.
People have already switched to online fitness solutions, as Forbes contributor Serenity Gibbons noted in her article "3 Industries That Should Prepare Now For Post-COVID Life." While companies that offer at-home solutions like Peloton may see a bump in their sales over the next year, wellness brands that depend on fitness studios and spas for their business may face a steep climb to normalcy. Spending on fitness will likely decline as customers lose their jobs and adjust to their cheaper, individual practices — especially when these practices feel "safer" when compared to sweating and breathing with strangers.
2. Hospitality and travel
The hospitality and travel industries were hit hard by shut downs, with reservations shriveling up and cancellations coming in like crazy. But even with temporary lifts on travel restrictions, the industry will be hard pressed to return to normal this year. Avi Meir, CEO of TravelPerk, wrote that the travel industry may see more periods of dead time as governments re-close countries on and off, making the climb to normal operating conditions incredibly difficult for companies who operate on small margins. Plus, with consumers losing their jobs or feeling increasingly unstable in their employment, dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on a vacation won't be as common as it is now. The travel influencer industry has already seen their income and, well, influence, shrinking, an indicator that the glamorization of travel might be on hold.
Additionally, the industry is poised to lose a large chunk of its business: corporate travel. Anders Johansson, CEO of Demand Calendar, says business travel was changing before the pandemic. But now, it will never be the same again. Thanks to forced training on telecommunication, businesses will be hard pressed to justify travel expenses when a Zoom meeting can work just as well in many cases, as it did during our shut downs. He expects there will be a decline in corporate travel, hotel bookings and flights.
Many restaurants will permanently close, even once the economy reopens, due to debt, reduced capacities and changes in consumer patterns. Paul Freedman, a history professor at Yale, told Politico he expects "we will be less communal at least for a while" as people have adjusted to cooking or ordering delivery.
Telemedicine is on the rise and likely to stay that way, meaning less business for offices who haven't made the switch. And as consumers continue to be fearful of COVID-19 over the coming months, elective visits and operations are also likely to be shirked, meaning less cash flow for segments of the industry not dealing with life-or-death situations.
Large events will likely be some of the last cleared by government bodies — and the last attended by wary consumers — meaning months or years of limited cash flow for the events industry, as noted by Gibbons.