Top 25 Industry Profiles for 2021 fireworksYou probably recall thinking at the end of 2020 that things would be getting back to “normal” in 2021. Alas, that is not exactly how the year unfolded, was it? It turns out that 2021 brought its own unique set of challenges, in addition to a continuation of some of 2020’s woes. But as we head into a new year, I believe there is value in looking back at what we can learn from the rearview mirror.

To that end, let’s take a look at the Vertical IQ Industry Profiles that received the most traction in 2021, based on views:

1. Dental practices 14. Marketing consulting services
2. Physician practices 15. Commercial building contractors
3. Law firms 16. CPA practices
4. HVAC/plumbing contractors 17. Veterinary practices
5. Lessors of residential buildings 18. Engineering services
6. Full-service restaurants 19. Lessors of non-residential buildings
7. Trucking companies 20. Electrical contractors
8. Commercial brokers and property managers 21. Insurance agencies and brokerages
9. Management consulting services 22. Computer system design services
10. Residential brokers and property managers 23. Food distributors
11. Landscaping services 24. Computer programming services
12. Auto repair shops 25. Childcare centers
13. Restaurants

The fine print

Let’s examine why some of these Industry Profiles may have been particularly popular during 2021.

  • Dental practices and physician practices were near the top of this list in 2020 as well. Both, of course, continue to be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to increased safety protocols, which can be costly, many patients continue to put off routine care or elective procedures, leading to a sharp decline in practice revenue. Practices also have struggled with worker shortages caused by the so-called “Great Resignation,” as well as illness and childcare challenges.
  • Restaurants continue to suffer from pandemic-related declines, though 2021 sales and employment did improve from 2020’s dreadful numbers. Labor shortages and supply chain issues impacted many restaurants struggling to remain afloat last year. At the same time, several federal aid programs targeting restaurants drew to a close at the end of 2021.
  • Trucking companies, along with food distributors were among those that bore the brunt of the widespread supply chain issues that plagued us in 2021. High demand converging with serious driver shortages and higher fuel prices mean transportation costs are continuing to increase rapidly for these industries, as well as the businesses they serve.
  • The real estate market was a bit of a mixed bag in 2021. Commercial property brokers and managers had a volatile year as COVID-19 cases decreased and then rose again, forcing many businesses to make difficult decisions about office space and telecommuting. Store closures did subside in 2021 (as compared to the calamitous number of closures experienced in 2020), yet another 2,900 stores were shuttered last year as of September 31, 2021. On the other hand, some residential brokers and property managers have had more business than they know what to do with. Rent and home sale prices have soared, driven in part by a low supply of available properties. An increasing number of sales fell through in 2021, however, when the home did not appraise for the sales price, preventing would-be buyers from securing their mortgage.
  • Commercial building contractors, HVAC/plumbing contractors, electrical contractors, landscapers, and engineering services are interconnected in many ways. While demand for office, religious, and lodging construction dropped precipitously in 2020/2021, investment has grown in recent years for construction and remodeling of healthcare, retail, and education space. Supply-chain delays and record high costs of multiple key building materials will continue to pressure project completion time and profitability in the near-future for these industries, however.
  • Auto repair shops, like many other industries, experienced both challenges and opportunities in 2021. The dearth of new and used vehicles, and resultant sales price increases, meant that more people had to resign themselves to repairing their existing vehicle. Additionally, people returning to work in 2021 meant more people on the roads, and thus more vehicle wear and tear…and collisions. Yet repair shops suffered from technician shortages, and supply chain issues also created headaches as many necessary parts were in short supply or unavailable.
  • Childcare centers continued to struggle in 2021 as a result of a combination of factors. While demand was still decreased by people working remotely — or in many cases leaving the workforce — an adequate supply of childcare workers remained elusive. At the same time, the cost of childcare has increased rapidly, spiking by more than 40 percent during the pandemic. This increase was necessary in part to offset the cost of wage increases and new, tougher safety guidelines.

The outlook for 2022

Just when we thought brighter days might be on the horizon in 2022, the Omicron variant swooped in to check our optimistic outlook. Though many industries do continue to struggle operationally or financially as a result of the pandemic and economic landscape, there is evidence that we are learning to co-exist with COVID-19.

The mixed bag of low unemployment, high inflation, and uncertainty around future virus variants makes crystal ball predictions for 2022 more difficult. But there are positive indicators that the U.S. economy will grow modestly this year. Here’s hoping that prediction holds.

From all of us here at Vertical IQ — we wish you a happy and healthy 2022!


Photo credit: Damir Mijailovic, Pexels

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