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Private, online and hi-tech: Industries that survive and fail in the coronavirus economy

HONG KONG: The coronavirus pandemic has sent stock markets into freefall and industries to the wall, however many firms enabling more private, online and tech-based living are emerging as potential winners.

As hundreds of millions of people worldwide are forced to stay in their homes and not travel abroad, the businesses that are helping them to adapt could lead to long-term changes in the economy.

“I think certain aspects of work and organising will change for good through the current situation,” said Sally Maitlis, a professor of organisational behaviour at Oxford University’s Said Business School.

“People will discover that they can work and communicate in ways they previously didn’t think possible, and will be forced to become more nimble with tech through having no choice to do otherwise.”

Here are comparisons of several sectors that are thriving and failing in the pandemic:

E-commerce giants vs independent stores

Large online retailers have seen a surge in orders as self-isolating or home-working consumers turn to their massive distribution and delivery networks to provide daily essentials.

Shares in US retail giants Walmart and Amazon both tumbled as markets crashed around the world on March 16.

During the week Walmart rose as much as 25 percent from its nine-month low on Monday. Amazon also recovered.

“We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” Amazon said.

Yet small, independent stores are suffering, said UK Federation of Small Businesses chair Mike Cherry.

“These are already very difficult times for all small businesses right across the country. There are huge concerns over supply chains while on top of this footfall continues to drop. The prospect for these businesses over the coming weeks is increasingly bleak.”