The past 12 months have been a challenge for many businesses, individuals, and economies. The pandemic pushed many countries into recession and caused countless others to slow down. But it wasn’t all bad news. A number of sectors, mainly those within the sphere of technology, continued to thrive, and even grow, during 2020.
With billions of people stuck at home for months on end, it’s no surprise that online entertainment companies observed a spike in sales. Music streaming giant Spotify opened up in a number of new markets and saw a rise in monthly active users. They also saw increased traffic to podcasts as well as music.
Netflix reported more than 16 million new signups during the first lockdown in 2020. Viewership figures and hours soared, as did the companies’ stocks. Disney+ was another hit and saved the skin of the wider business, as the company saw studios, parks, and live sports grind to a halt globally.
Social media and content sharing platforms like YouTube also saw a surge in numbers. The company reported a 500% increase in viewers in March 2020 and a 75% increase in people looking for news. TikTok also experienced a significant boost during the year. The video making and sharing platform said it grew more than 180% during 2020, with more than 12 million unique US visitors in March of that year.
The housing market
Believe it or not, the housing market managed to weather the pandemic storm. In the UK, a stamp duty holiday led to a significant increase in those searching for properties, getting mortgages, and buying new homes. In the US, the property market also remained positive and almost immune to the impact of lockdown.
Increased digitalization of processes and services meant that much was possible remotely, without having to attend in person. Property search engines, and broker sites such as Trussle, provided potential buyers with streamlined and time-saving services where they could easily compare mortgages. The process of evaluating home loans (which are known for being particularly cumbersome) can be simplified, as users just input their budget and deposit, and can instantly compare various deals.
Despite uncertain economic times, the property industry in various leading economies continues to look promising. Analysts believe we could be in for another bumper year for buyers and sellers as vaccinations continue to be rolled out worldwide.
Last but not least, the online retail sector also experienced a boom during the pandemic. People were forced to shop online, be it for daily groceries, toiletries, homeware, or clothing. Sales of leggings and sportswear soared, as did home fitness equipment like yoga mats, weights, and treadmills. Consumers also invested in skincare products, electric devices for the home, and interior decorations.
Many people who hadn’t previously shopped online, turned to websites and social media to buy products. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook were big drivers, with shoppers placing orders through them, or messaging apps like WhatsApp. As this was such a big shift, it’s likely that many will remain converts to online shopping after the pandemic subsides.
Lessons learned from the pandemic include the need to adapt services and products to the digital realm. Companies that will continue to flourish are those that offer online services, or products that can be purchased online. Those that don’t, will find it increasingly difficult to keep up.