By Britany Ryzenga

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the operations of almost all industries across the entire globe. However, despite a deterioration of economic conditions, a few industry sectors are growing amidst the crisis.  Businesses are rapidly adjusting to the ever-changing circumstances and facing a new reality made up of complexity, uncertainty and for some, opportunity.

At the beginning of the year, one of our Whittaker Associates’ newsletters focused on the company’s trends of 2019, looking at the previous year’s top five requested industries for SmartLeads as well as the increasing request for targeted trade-show lead lists, but the economy as we knew it changed dramatically in a few short months.  With industry specific trade shows now cancelled and mandated social distancing orders in place in some areas, new needs and behaviors are required as businesses are now having to be innovative, resilient, and able to adapt and thrive in a new normal.  These new needs are now creating opportunity for rapid exponential growth in some industry sectors.

We’re aware of the obvious new demand for medical manufacturing, food & beverage, logistics and warehousing and paper product manufacturing (panic toilet paper buying!) but let’s take a deeper look at some additional industry sectors expected to thrive:

E-Commerce Retailers– Across the globe, people have been forced to use the internet- for everything.  Online is booming and people are purchasing most consumer products as well as grocery/meal delivery online with the click of a mouse and contactless delivery at the doorstep.  This pandemic has also forced older generations that may not have otherwise experimented with the growing technologies to adapt.  E- commerce user-levels will probably never drop to what they were pre-COVID for many reasons, including convenience and safety.

Industrial Real Estate– Typically when we think of E-commerce facilities we think of large spaces that allow for access to a greater variety of product and accommodate pick-pack systems.  We may also see an interest in bringing some facilities back to the United States to have better control during times of disorder. 

Robotics- Mandated stay-at-home orders and an increase in employees working from home has proven the benefits of leveraging artificial intelligence.  Pre-COVID, the use of AI was primarily due to rising wage conflicts and an absence of available workers.  However, we’re now facing an abundance of available workers but social distancing and constantly changing needs are encouraging employers to look at replacing humans wherever possible.

Technology– Aside from the growth in E-commerce, there’s been a rapid shift to work-from-home and homeschooling.  The speed of our internet connections will be considered top priority as more and more homeowners are looking to increase their bandwidth.  Platforms like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or Messenger Video, MicrosoftTeams, and GoToMeeting are being used for both video conferencing/virtual meetings and homeschooling, while streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Disney+ and more surge with more people at home.

Food & Beverage – Stay-at-home orders and concern for safety caused an unforeseen spike in the food & beverage industry.  However, less people are wanting to venture out to the grocery store and the future of grocery shopping may forever change.  As quarantines and fear of the unknown force people to remain at home, home grocery and meal deliveries are becoming the norm and we may see AI utilized for robotic pick-up windows, pick-pack systems and more.  As the food and beverage industry experiences a real boom, one of the main subsets of this sector that is really feeling the increase in demand is frozen foods.  With consumers stocking up on food for an uncertain amount of time and a future vaccine requiring temperature controlled storage, the freezer/cooler supply chain is one that will continue to grow.

Domestic Appliance– Furthermore, with an increased demand for frozen foods (stocking up), comes a need for freezer space.  The domestic appliance retail and supply chain industry is also likely to benefit from greater demand for deep freezers (as well as televisions, laptops, computer monitors, speakers, gaming systems).  As stay-at-home mandates require families to find entertainment within their home, the demand for domestic appliances and entertainment devices will continue to be on the rise.