The 2020 COVID virus has slowed the economy to a trickle. While we do our coronavirus quarantine, it may take quite some time before the hustle and bustle of our consumer-based economy comes back to life.
As we focus on the spread of the coronavirus infection and monitor its impact on the health and safety of our communities, other changes are sweeping through the country. The crisis connected with coronavirus pandemic presses on, and it has already altered the lives and consumer habits of a few PissedConsumer users.
In this article, we cover the main industries affected by the pandemic. Read on to check what the coronavirus outbreak will bring us. Feel free to share your predictions and opinions in the comments below, and let us know what you think about the future of various businesses.
- Impacts on businesses from COVID-19
- Coronavirus effect on consumers
- The effects of COVID-19 on employees
1. Impacts on Businesses from COVID 19
A global pandemic has changed the face of American consumerism. But it is not affecting every company or individual in the same way. Retail stores are shuttered, service and travel industries are decimated, restaurants serve only take-out and delivery, but grocery and online businesses are growing along with coronavirus scams targeted at consumers..
Industries in Peril
The business suffering from the COVID-19 quarantine is not equally distributed. Among the hardest hit are retail, service and travel industries as well as those that rely on global import and exchange of goods.
It is not just the corona virus quarantine that has affected entire market segments. According to analysts at Barrons, many companies have been overextending with debt for quite some time. The analysts claim that the “value of corporate debt hit 47% of gross domestic product this year, higher even than the 45% it hit in 2008 before the last recession.” Additionally, more than half of this corporate debt was rated as BBB, which means it is not considered a great investment by investors.
Companies were stretching and playing fast and loose with their finances and due to the human coronavirus in the US, many companies are about to lose their entire hand.
Travel and Transportation
According to a Barrons analysis on March 20, 2020, “airline stocks are so cheap that the entire U.S. industry is now valued at $48 billion—less than a third of the market value of Walt Disney.” The peril of the airlines is shared by all travel companies. People aren’t traveling for work or pleasure, and that is putting airlines, limos, charter buses and all forms of travel and transportation at serious risk. Despite predictions of growth in the travel business, industry analysts from Forbes are expecting the transportation industry to be suppressed for quite some time moving forward. Forbes considers this an opportunity to “rethink our broken transportation business models and be better at understanding what it truly costs (all of them) to move a person or a thing around our cities.”
Energy companies have had a streak of hardship extending back further than the spread of the Coronavirus in the USA. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus outbreak, households and companies aren’t traveling, so they aren’t buying gas.
COVID-19 predictions for 2020 call for many energy companies to fold completely. The corona virus quarantine, the plummet of oil prices and the drops in the stock market will be too much for these companies to handle.
While fossil fuel companies have been hit hard by corona virus and international price wars, wind and solar energy are still growing. According to the New York Times, “Renewable energy sources are set to account for nearly 21 percent of the electricity the United States uses for the first time this year, up from about 18 percent last year and 10 percent in 2010.”
And they are expected to grow in the future.
The entire hospitality industry is frozen thanks to the coronavirus infection Jennifer Leigh Parker broke down the suffering of the industry in her recent Forbes article:
"By the end of April, the impact of the coronavirus on the industry is expected to add up to a loss of 5.9 million jobs and $910 billion in travel-related economic output. That’s seven times the impact of 9/11."
Despite the serious set-backs faced by the travel and hospitality industry , a boom in future travel is expected. The present may be murky, but the future of travel is bright according to Christopher Elliott’s article “Does the Travel Industry Have a Future?”
Fitness and Beauty
To avoid spreading of coronavirus, many gyms and fitness locations were forced to close with social distancing protocols. And it’s likely that many independently-owned fitness centers may not be staging a comeback, as those looking for guidance with fitness have found new online options.
Many health and grooming-related businesses have suffered the same fate. Tanning salons nail, waxing businesses, beauty and barbershops are closed to slow the coronavirus outbreak. However, the skills offered by barbers, nail and waxing techs are still in demand – that pent-up demand may help individuals re-establish themselves in new ways, even if the original businesses close.
Those who work in the fitness and grooming industry know that they are facing a tough job when appointments are made again, but they are not worried about the job security. Sali Hughes, a British make-up guru, recently explained on Jakartapost.com that “Professionals are also genuinely worried... and tell me they're bracing themselves for a plethora of complex colour correction appointments when they finally reopen.” So personal grooming and fitness industries will likely spring back after the corona virus.
Restaurants are closed and economists like Paul Freedman anticipate there being far fewer restaurants in our near future. Those that have been closed completely may not reopen. And those that have survived using delivery and take-out options may find that preparing food to go is the best way forward.
While some restaurants may survive on savings or take-out orders of food and alcohol, others will shutter their doors forever. The industry is likely to be transformed by a lingering fear of crowds, so many restaurants may serve fewer patrons at once and only four out of five restaurants are even expected to survive the downturn, based on Businessinsider.com report.
Industries Poised for Growth
Coronavirus 2020 has undercut many key industries in the United States and it’s hard to say what will happen next. Industry experts are starting to share their COVID-19 predictions for 2020 and the latest coronavirus news isn’t that terrible. Positive coronavirus predictions indicate that it’s high time for certain industries to thrive.
By now we all know the saga of trying to find toilet paper during the spread of corona virus in the USA. And suddenly the grocery store has appeared to be the most popular place in the community.
Grocery stores are hiring while everyone else is laying off workers. The stores are strengthening supply lines and bringing in stockers to get food and products to customers as quickly as possible.
According to the New York Times, Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, is hiring more than “150,000 additional employees in its stores and warehouses through the end of May. That represents a roughly 10 percent increase in its current work force.”
Grocery stores are the end of the supply line between producers and consumers, but they aren’t the only business booming. Experts are expecting the trends in cooking at home and ordering grocery pick-up to continue well into the future, supporting long term stability for grocery stores.
Insurance, as many other industries connected with financial investments, are experiencing a huge hit. “Buying new policies where insurers need to carry out medical tests are taking time and have slowdown. No more new policy issuance for NRIs or those with recent travel history. So, overall, insurance industry has been hit from many directions" says Rakesh Goyal, Director, Probus Insurance Broker.
The reviews on our website reflect this crisis in an extreme raise of their number.
The corona virus in the USA has told us that we don’t have enough medical supplies. Coronavirus face masks are impossible to find so companies that manufacture medical supplies like coronavirus facemasks and gloves, face shields and ventilators are seeing a surge in business. Based on NY Times report, they can’t produce enough to meet demand and are rushing hiring procedures to secure enough employees.
The continuing lack of medical supplies for a global pandemic that is expected to linger in waves, will continue to fuel the medical supply industry. Additionally, according to BBC.com, the lack of preparedness has brought tremendous amounts of criticism on governments, which will likely fuel additional medical supply spending in the future.
Health and Medical
The health and medical fields are undergoing an enormous strain in many places due to the spread of the Corona virus in the USA. But while there are significant struggles to find the necessary medical equipment and maintain the appropriate level of care for patients, the industry is also poised for transformation in the immediate future.
According to HealthAffairs.org, the global medical community is already looking at more accelerated medical school programs to meet the needs created by Corona virus 2020. COVID-19 predictions for 2020 anticipate sweeping changes to the industry. Andrew Blake states that “there is precedent for innovative change in medical education during times of extraordinary need.” He anticipates accelerated programs to take advantage of medical students still in training.
Meanwhile, traditional doctor’s visits are being replaced by telehealth technology and out-of-office visits. According to healthcare technology analysts at HIMSS, hospitals and medical teams are currently being hampered by a lack of medical technology. However, according to HIMSS, some forms of medical technology are “in hot demand as they prove their worth during the national pandemic.”
This is particularly true for medical technology “that support telehealth services.” According to some of the latest coronavirus news on Americantelemed.org, some medical technology is pulled into use immediately under emergency use authorization from the FDA to help battle the virus.
Food Delivery Companies
Restaurants with drive trough’s or curbside delivery are seeing an uptick in business as well as the companies that are offering to pick up food and drop it off at a customer’s doorstep.
According to Yelp data scientist, Carl Bialik, “U.S. consumer interest for restaurants has fallen by 54%, and for nightlife businesses by 69%.” The silver lining for that particular cloud, however is that, “Pizzerias, fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and fruits and veggies shops are all grabbing a much bigger share of the pie than they were a week ago (up 44%, 64%, 160%, and 102%, respectively, in share of daily U.S. consumer actions.”
While many restaurants are closed for dining, they are still open for take-out. These restaurants are pairing up with food delivery companies and even grocery stores to provide prepared meals for customers on a to-go or delivery basis, according to Supermarketnews.com.
Food delivery services are growing, although industry analysts aren’t sure how much as companies like Ubereats and Postmates haven’t shared statistics yet. But prices are rising, which is a sign of demand, and food delivery companies are hiring in many areas, which also signals a strong shift in demand. The food delivery companies are also rapidly evolving to include safety measures like “leave at your door delivery” and delivering free meals or free delivery for first responders and medical staff.
Looking forward, households who have embraced food delivery will likely continue to do so as they recognize its convenience. Additionally, more restaurants are offering partnerships with food delivery companies and many are offering take-out for the first time. This is a trend that is likely to stick too.
Web Connection and Education Tools
With a boom in working from home and distance learning, companies that offer connectivity tools and platforms have experienced a surge of demand.
Remote meeting platforms like Zoom and Skype are household names. Online education platforms and services are being retooled and upgrades are raced to market. Some analysts from Politico.com think that the successful transition of work and school to homes may be a trend that is here to stay.
Online Resources and Services
Our entire country has moved online and streaming services for entertainment, music, fitness, and news have become the norm. Shopping online through apps is showing this trend in a big way. Mobile spending is up despite the growing numbers of unemployment, and it is expected to double completely by 2024, according to Techchrunch’s report.
Companies who are poised to offer products, services, and entertainment in a seamless way through the internet will likely thrive. As quarantine measures are lifted, online shopping and services popularity will likely continue as they offer convenience and continuity for consumers .
Weapons and Security Companies
Periods of economic uncertainly have made individuals nervous about their safety.
Businesses owners are hiring security officers to monitor their places of business both in person and through the internet until they can get back to work. Individuals are buying weapons to boost their own confidence and to protect themselves, their property, and their families.
Based on Fastcompany.com report, companies are reporting spikes in gun sales , and increased weapon sales will likely continue as guns sales traditionally go up during economic recessions.
With the economy contracting, businesses and some consumers starting to show signs of distress, traditional banks are tightening lending standards. Tighter lending standards coupled with rising job insecurities are sending consumers to alternate locations to secure cash.
Cash service companies are seeing more business as people look for ways to borrow money, pay for essential items and cover the gap created while they wait for unemployment benefits or the government stimulus to take effect.
According to Marketwatch, more than 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment in March. And 40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 in an emergency even before losing their jobs. Cash services and short term loan companies will likely help many of these Americans cover gaps in their finances while the economy recovers from Covid-19.
The coronavirus quarantine and the almost immediate move to digital everything has shown how important it is to maintain and upgrade our existing connectivity network.
According to Business Insider, “The growing need for remote interactions amid the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a need for 5G technology, potentially accelerating adoption in the long term.”
Marketwatch has stated that “In this environment, 5G remote telecommunications – reaching people by SmartPhone, internet and other digital means -- has even a brighter future.” We can expect telecom to continue to boom for some time.
Home and Vacation Rentals
One bright spot in the suffering travel industry is home rentals like VRBO and Airbnb. As tourists start to ease back into their travels, COVID-19 predictions for 2020 indicate they will likely skip the crowded hotels.
According to Forbes, Airbnb is already betting on fast recovery and anticipating future demand. Vacation rentals should be growing soon as consumers cautiously begin traveling again yet maintain the desire to avoid crowded locations and accommodations.
Being forced to stay home is making many singles rethink their approach to relationships. Based on the increase of reviews on PissedConsumer, more people are trying out online match-making and dating services.
According to an analysis done by Forbes, online dating platforms, already a $6 billion global industry, are reinventing themselves to better support singles looking for companionship and love during a time of isolation. According to Forbes, “Humans are immensely adaptable—especially when driven by something as primal as companionship,” and that is why “coronavirus lockdown is also changing how we date, likely shifting our habits permanently.”
Time Magazine thinks that many of the changes to online dating are here to stay. According to Time, “Even once there is a cure for the coronavirus or the pandemic passes, an entire generation will think twice before hugging a stranger on a first, second, even third date.” Instead, use of video chat on dating apps is booming and online daters are looking for longer, more thoughtful conversations than the previous pithy exchanges that occurred on these apps.
Customers are currently trying to balance patience with panic, and to get used to the new living conditions so that to suffer less from negative coronavirus effects and enjoy their self-isolation. But, more or less successful attempts were overshadowed by unexpected coronavirus effects like, for example, ongoing membership fees from closed gyms or refusal to refund money for the flight tickets. More cases of the coronavirus side effects and what Pissed Consumer users have to say about them you may find below.
Ongoing Membership Fees
As facts about COVID-19 emerged, city and state leaders closed gyms and salons and told consumers to stay home. Consumers did stay home and gyms closed, but based on the uptick of reviews, they aren’t happy about how they have been treated by the gyms in the interim.
Customers are frustrated that they are still being charged for membership fees when they can’t use the services they are paying for. Other Planet Fitness complaints allege customers can’t cancel their membership despite efforts to do so.
The facts about COVID-19 don’t change the law and customers have the right to cancel their membership, even during a crisis
If you have been unable to cancel a contract, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General or you cancel the payment through your credit card company or bank. Simply call the bank and tell them you no longer authorize payment to the fitness center or club and the bank will not allow the club to charge your credit card.
Almost all travel was cancelled overnight. In some cases, consumers cancelled their own trips or tried to postpone. In others, travel companies were forced to cancel as governments limited flights or closed borders during the crisis.
While some companies have been gracious about cancellations and quickly refunding customers for trips that can’t be taken, others have not. In one of many VRBO reviews on PissedConsumer, a frustrated customer explains just how differently companies are handling refunds due to coronavirus facts.
The consumer arranged his stay through VRBO, but when he needed to cancel due to corona virus, he called both VRBO and the location and “neither was helpful, or would offer refund.” His friend, however, “booked in same building, same time thru Airbnb and cancellation was refunded no problem.”
In many cases, travel is booked without any type of travel protection or insurance. In those cases, even in the face of a global crisis, companies are not obligated to do anything more than what is on the legal disclosures at the time of booking.
While travel insurance might offer you some protection, getting through to the company can be a challenge in itself as offices are closed and there is a flood of travelers trying to do the same thing. Even highly established companies like Costco were not able to answer customer calls right away, which led to a great deal of frustration on the part of customers.
Overpriced Items and Coronavirus Scams
In the hunt for the best mask for coronavirus and other means of coronavirus protection, some retailers are raising prices. In some cases, individual retailers who sell through sites like Amazon were not allowed to continue selling if they were overpricing their items.
Based on other complaints through PissedConsumer, there are plenty of customers accusing companies of coronavirus scams by selling overpriced goods or even taking money without providing any goods in return.
In one of the Modern Beyond reviews (#1803403), a customer accused the company of coronavirus scams through false advertising. She had ordered “a Coronavirus N95 Face Mask which was pictured on their website. The total was almost $40.” But when the order came it was “a cheap medical mask with no charcoal, no air vent! Clearly a ripoff.”
She explains that even though she got a refund on the coronavirus protection mask, she still cannot recommend the company “because I believe they used false advertising and did not sent what they advertised.”
Local companies like food delivery companies are accused of being part of the coronavirus conspiracy of poor service as well. Doordash reviews, as well as Ubereats and Postmates reviews, on PissedConsumer are filled with frustrated customers asking about refunds and complaining about missing food or wrong orders.
In cases such as problems with food or product delivery, customers can call the company to ask for a refund or to complain. They might also file a formal complaint with the Attorney General.
Suspended Payments and Services
More than 90 cities and states in the United States have suspended cut-offs for water. That means residents in those states won’t have their water cut for lack of payment. The federal government has ordered “immediate cessations of eviction and foreclosure proceedings” for 60 days to help families battling unemployment and the COVID-19 virus. States are ordering suspended rent payments and banks are offering deferred mortgage payments.
But even with what should be good news, there are still those who are struggling to navigate the tricky financial waters. In one of the Mr Cooper reviews (#1828964), one customer found himself facing an armed man sent by the mortgage company on the other side of his door despite the freeze on evictions and foreclosure
“…a man carrying a gun to your door to deliver a message to call them? Yup, a guy wearing a gun belt and gun like a cowboy…”
Unfortunately the federal freeze on mortgage payments and foreclosure affects only mortgages backed by the department of Housing and Urban Development, or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It does not apply to other lenders.
The FCC has encouraged more than 650 companies to sign a pledge to Keep American Connected. This pledge promises to open up hot spots for all consumers, to keep customers connected despite overdue bills and to waive late fees.
Despite the pledge, some customers are receiving notices from their companies about disconnected services. In this tweet, one customer called out Spectrum for cancelling his service due to an overdue bill.
If you feel your rights have been violated, especially in light of the various policy and legal decrees related to corona virus, contact the Attorney General or read through the collection of COVID-19 responses for guidance and to file a complaint.
3. The Effects of COVID-19 on Employees
As the recent Instacart and Whole Foods strike showed the country, there is not a cut and dry response to the rights and benefits during the spread of COVID-19.
The United States Department of Labor has created guidance for employees to know what rights they do have and how protections might have changed or be applied during coronavirus outbreak.
Do employees have the right to receive compensation during the quarantine?
The rights of an employee to be paid or not be paid during the coronavirus quarantine are broken down by the SHRM website.
According to the website, non-exempt employees are paid only for the services provided. If you are not working, you do not have to be paid. Exempt employees and those with annual salaries have different levels of protection during situations like the corona virus outbreak and will likely continue to be paid if they are still employed by the company.
Can the employer fire the employees during quarantine?
As companies are closed, many businesses are laying off, firing,or suspending workers. This is strategic for both the company and the employee. Thanks to extra unemployment assistance, employees will likely be able to file quickly for unemployment benefits that come with extra funds. The company can minimize its costs by laying off workers to try and survive the quarantine period.
Unless an employee is protected by a strong employment contract that requires certain qualifications be met before termination, employers can fire, layoff or furlough employees at any time.
Do employees that work during the quarantine, e.g. deliverymen, have the right to receive any privileges like free masks, sanitizes, extra payment, reduced working hours?
The rights to additional protection were the subject of the strike organized by Gig Workers Collective for Instacart workers. As a response to the call for strike Instacart “it would soon provide workers with a new hand sanitizer upon request and outlined changes to its tip system.”
The company did not offer hazard pay or additional protection to workers and is not legally obligated to do so. This is true for other delivery services and food workers during the quarantine; although some places of business are doing what they can to protect employees of their own volition.
What should a worker do if his right on it wasn’t fulfilled or his right was violated?
If you feel your rights were violated at your work, you can research the specifics of the issue and file a complaint with the United States government. The government has collected all relevant labor laws and information for consumers on this page, which also contains information about filing an official complaint.
We are living in unprecedented times of uncertainty and change. As we move forward in our current coronavirus quarantine, consumers, employees and business owners must work together and stay informed since they all perform crucial roles in our American society.
Tell us what you think of the current events. Share your experience with any of the business in comments and add on any industries that you think should be included into the list.
By Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert
Rebecca Garland, M.S. is a business and education writer. She holds secondary teaching certifications in six areas, has a degree in Business, and earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. As an expert, Rebecca has been working with international clients since 2005.
*The company ratings on the PissedConsumer website are calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in the company’s profile. The algorithm parameters are: users’ rating, the number of resolved issues, the number of company responses and more. The PissedConsumer algorithm is also subject to change in the future.
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