Industries Most Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the situation surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, industries are experiencing the impacts in various ways; some industries have been negatively impacted to a large degree, while others have had more positive impacts. As the leading provider of Industry Intelligence for those advising small- and medium-sized businesses, our research team is working to provide updates on industries affected by COVID-19.

Information is updated regularly, so continue to check back for the most recent insights.

Top Performing Industries

January 19, 2021

  • Increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines may not immediately result in the reopening of amusement parks and arcades. Current coronavirus pandemic models project a months-long gap between when the majority of the population will be allowed to receive a vaccine and when its distribution will be widespread enough for people to gather without social distancing or enhanced hygiene measures, according to BISNOW. Studies of the COVID-19 vaccines only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer. It is possible to become infected with the coronavirus and be asymptomatic, meaning you never develop symptoms. Asymptomatic people can still spread COVID-19.
  • Disney will lay off 32,000 employees in the first half of fiscal 2021. Prolonged closures at Disney's California-based theme parks and limited attendance at its open parks is a primary cause of the layoffs, the majority of which will be from its parks, experiences, and products division. The total includes the 28,000 workers that the company previously announced in September.
  • All theme parks in California remain closed, as state guidelines prohibit reopening until coronavirus cases in counties fall below 1 per 100,000. Parks in the state were told on October 20 that they would not be permitted to reopen unless cases in their counties had reached the "minimal" tier, or less than one case per 100,000 residents. Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's health secretary, said that a combination of factors influenced the state's decision, including the amount of time spent at parks, the number of people coming from far away, and how many touch points there were for infection to potentially spread. Experts say that park visitors are typically tourists who will spend days going to the park for multiple hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that coronavirus infections are more likely to occur the longer people interact.
  • Employment in the amusements, gambling, and recreation industry decreased 36.8% year over year in October but was up 33.4% from the low of May.
  • In a post-COVID-19 world, capacity management is expected to evolve and become even more important, although the focus is projected to shift to limits versus maximums. New practices under consideration include selling tickets in intervals and only allowing a set number of guests enter during the interval; limiting daily attendance to far below capacity; allowing guests to scan themselves in; and adjusting to one-way traffic flow to minimize guest contact (similar but not identical to IKEA).
  • Theme parks are also considering leaving seats or rows vacant on rides. Compliance with social distancing while waiting in the long lines that characterize popular rides remains an issue, as is dining room capacity, which will likely be reduced. COVID-19 may end 3-D rides that require reusable glasses. Shanghai Disneyland has successfully restarted its popular character dining programs.

January 4, 2021

  • State coronavirus vaccine distribution plans reviewed by Reuters news service showed broad discrepancies regarding who would be considered essential, with some states clearly outlining specific worker groups and others not providing any clarity. Many states have so far followed federal guidance to give meat and food processing industry workers space in the line, but some are slowly moving away from it, according to Mark Lauritsen, who now advocates on behalf of about 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers under the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Sources that Reuters spoke to said that it is not clear whether the federal government could overwrite state distribution plans.
  • The spike in COVID-19 cases across the country is likely to continue suppressing sales to the restaurant industry. Several states and localities have begun re-imposing capacity restrictions due to rising infection rates, and restaurant closures are increasing. The US recorded on January 1 its 20 millionth confirmed COVID-19 case since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The reopening of restaurants, gyms, and hotels carries the highest danger of spreading Covid-19, according to a Stanford University and Northwestern University study. Researchers who conducted the study say that that full-blown lockdowns may not be necessary to reduce infections. Masks, social distancing, and reduced capacity at places where people congregate all can play a major role in reducing infections.
  • Health experts have determined that the risk of coming in contact with the coronavirus by handing grocery items like packages of fruits and vegetables is extremely small. Information on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “because of the poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely a very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.” The site also notes that no cases of COVID-19 have been linked to people touching food or food packaging and then touching their faces. There is now wide agreement among health experts that the coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets in the air, according to USA Today.
  • Canned vegetables remain among the products that are difficult to find in grocery stores, according to The Food Institute. One reason for out of stocks is that manufacturers and retailers are focusing on making, delivering, and stocking their top-selling items, which can lead to less niche or seasonal items. Additionally, other aisles have less stock because the sector cannot make enough. B&G Foods, which produces Green Giant canned and frozen vegetables, said that it is making as much as possible but hasn’t been able to stock up on extras to prepare for another wave of shutdowns. Other manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark, and General Mills also said that they haven’t been able to rebuild inventories because of the strong demand.
  • Fruit and vegetable manufacturers may need to upgrade cooling systems in cold storage rooms due to concerns that the coronavirus can spread via HVAC systems. Specialists are evaluating how well heavy-duty filters block microbes and considering whether to install systems that use ultraviolet light or electrically charged particles in the ductwork to kill the virus. Many of the methods to reduce pathogens have been around for years, but were geared more to hospitals than commercial buildings.
  • US Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced the Food Supply Protection Act to provide produce packing plants and farms with grant and loan financing to clean facilities, upgrade machinery, purchase protective equipment, and ensure adequate COVID-19 tests are available for employees.

December 25, 2020

  • State coronavirus vaccine distribution plans reviewed by Reuters news service showed broad discrepancies regarding who would be considered essential, with some states clearly outlining specific worker groups and others not providing any clarity. Many states have so far followed federal guidance, but some are slowly moving away from it, according to Mark Lauritsen, who now advocates on behalf of about 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers under the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Sources that Reuters spoke to said that it is not clear whether the federal government could overwrite state distribution plans.
  • Harvard University researchers found that 20% of 104 grocery workers tested positive for COVID-19 at a store in Massachusetts. Most of them had no symptoms when tested. The infection rate was “significantly higher than the surrounding communities,” study authors wrote.
  • About 87% of consumers surveyed by C+R Research fear that the COVID-19 surge will lead to grocery shortages, and 67% say they have been stocking up on supplies. About 77% of respondents believe grocery shopping will change permanently post-pandemic.
  • Consumers are making fewer trips to the grocery store to avoid exposure to infection. “People now go to the store with purpose,” said John Owen, the associate director for food and retail with Mintel, the market analysis group. “The number of trips went way down, and the size of the basket went way up in April. We have eased back on that, but not by much.” Before the coronavirus, 19% of Americans shopped for food more than three times a week, according to McKinsey & Company. That number had dropped to 10% by June, as reported by the New York Times.
  • Employment at grocery stores increased 2.9% year over year in October and was up 2.8% from the beginning of 2020.
  • Retail sales in the grocery store industry increased 1.9% in value month over month and 8.2% year over year in November. Sales were up 11.4% in value year over year for the first 11 months of 2020.
  • Food prices are expected to rise 2% to 3% this year and next, according to the US Department of Agriculture The expected increase is slightly higher than the 1.9% increase in 2019 but in line with the 20-year historical average of 2.3%.

December 25, 2020

  • Elevated home improvement activity may continue into 2021 despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Current coronavirus pandemic models project a months-long gap between when the majority of the population will be allowed to receive a vaccine and when its distribution will be widespread enough for people to gather without social distancing or enhanced hygiene measures, according to BISNOW. Studies of the COVID-19 vaccines only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer. It is possible to become infected with the coronavirus and be asymptomatic, meaning you never develop symptoms. Asymptomatic people can still spread COVID-19.
  • Lowe’s reported a 34.2% year over year increase in same-store sales for Q3 2020. Home Depot reported a 24.6% year over year increase in same-store sales during the period.
  • Sales of previously owned homes rose 26.6% year over year and 4.3% month over month in October, according to the National Association of Realtors. It was the fifth consecutive month of month-over-month increases. The extreme shortage of homes for sale is boosting home prices. There were 1.42 million existing homes on the market at the end of October, a 19.8% drop compared with October 2019. That represents a 2.5-month supply at the current sales pace, the lowest on record. The median price of an existing home sold in October was $313,000, up 15.5% year over year. That is the highest median price on record and reflects the far stronger sales on the higher end of the market.
  • Retail sales for building material, garden equipment, and supplies dealers increased 1.1% in value month over month and 17.2% year over year in November 2020 . Sales were up 13.4% in value year over year for the first 11 months of 2020.
  • Employment in the home center and hardware store industry increased 11.8% year over year in October and was up 15.4% from the beginning of the year.
  • Homebuilder sentiment, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, reached 90 in November, seasonally adjusted, which breaks the record for the index’s highest reading in its 35-year history. It’s the third consecutive month that the NAHB index has broken a record. The index has been steadily rising since bottoming out in April, when the onset of the pandemic shuttered many regions across the country. Homebuilder sentiment toward home sales hit 96, setting a new high for the year. The outlook for home sales in six months moved to 89 from 88 in October. Activity among would-be homebuyers jumped to 77 from 74.

December 30, 2020

  • US e-commerce sales increased 47.2% year over year from November 1 to December 24, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Online sales accounted for 19.7% of overall retail during the period, up from 13.4% last year.
  • E-commerce giant Amazon said that it had a “record-breaking holiday season”, delivering more than 1.5 billion toys, home products, beauty and personal care products, and electronics. Third-party sales on Amazon’s marketplace rose more than 50% year-over-year worldwide.
  • Online spending on Black Friday 2020 increased 21.6% to a record $9 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Black Friday 2020 was the second-largest online spending day in history in the US, behind Cyber Monday last year.
  • The Internet retail sector received the lowest satisfaction score in a survey of nearly 31,000 consumers conducted between April 1 and September 30. The sector’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score fell by nearly 5% year over year from 81 to 77. Amazon’s index score dropped 7%, the largest decline among all internet retailers, from a sector-leading 83 last year to 77. Walmart received an index score of 73, just one point above last-place finisher Sears. Other major online retailer results include Wayfair (down 6% year over year), Overstock (down 5%) and the HP Store, Nike, Macy’s, Apple, Dell, Gap and Lowe’s (down 4% each).
  • Retail sales in non-store retailers, which include internet and mail-order retailers, were unchanged in value month over month but increased 30% year over year in November . Sales were up 22.6% in value year over year for the first 11 months of 2020.
  • Employment in the internet and mail-order retail industry increased 5.1% year over year in October and was up 18.5% compared to the low of April.

November 17, 2020

  • Cleaning services providers saw moderate growth in the third quarter, according to the Home Service Economic Report: Summer 2020 released in November by Jobber, a job tracking and customer management software firm. Median revenue for cleaning firms in September was 3% higher than year-ago levels. New cleaning work scheduled was up 5% during the same period. The pandemic has raised awareness of cleaning budgets. Office building landlords and operators are completely rethinking their cleaning strategies in preparation for people returning to office buildings. Sanitizing surfaces will become much more of a priority. As more office buildings reopen, some may use staggered schedules to facilitate social distancing among employees. This may create the need for more routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. Workers returning to offices may also require cleaning crews to adapt to new solid waste collection issues including discarded single-use personal protection equipment.
  • Most janitorial services firms are inundated with commercial cleaning jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. OpenWorks, a commercial cleaning company, said that clients who normally request cleanings four to five days a week are now requesting their services six to seven days a week. The cleaning trade association, ISSA, is pumping out training and certifications to get more janitorial workers into the industry and support its efforts. As demand for janitorial services has risen, some industry insiders warn that instances of false claims about COVID-19 cleaning and sanitizing are increasing. Some of the most prevalent scams include processes that claim to instantly kill viruses, treatments that purport to remain active for extremely long periods of time, and cleaning treatments that make one-and-done claims of effectiveness. Industry experts suggest customers ask what cleaning products will be used then compare them to the EPA’s list of approved products and technologies.
  • If reopening offices and other business require additional cleaning tasks, more frequent cleaning, or sanitizing of surfaces, pricing adjustments will likely be necessary, according to the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI). The BSCAI recommends cleaning firms be as specific as possible in contracts to describe services requirements and products used.
  • As offices reopen, tech companies are introducing cleaning scheduling apps to help office managers gather bids from qualified cleaning firms. The Onedesk Office Cleaning Platform allows cleaning firms to do a virtual walkthrough of an office space and bid on the job without having to visit the location. Carpet and upholstery cleaning firms’ may seek to become pre-vetted vendors for such apps.
  • Janitorial and restoration firms are adding new disinfecting services. Some use disinfecting fogs and mists that can be efficiently applied with no wiping. Such services could become long-term revenue streams if consumers come to expect commercial spaces to be regularly disinfected. The industry is also looking into how ozone can fight coronavirus. Ozone (over-oxygenated air) breaks the virus’ outer membrane, like topical cleaners, and destroys it. An ozone machine is turned on in the space and the technician leaves, providing lower risk of exposure to the ozone technician than a technician that applies disinfectant to a surface. Industry watchers believe more offices will be cleaned electrostatically using charged solutions that kill germs in hard-to-reach spots, according to The Los Angeles Times.
  • Industry insiders suggest companies that offer coronavirus-related cleaning and disinfecting services check to ensure their insurance policies cover them in the event of a COVID-19-related claim by a customer or employee. Many cleaning and restoration companies that are performing COVID-19 decontamination services are finding their insurance doesn’t provide adequate coverage. Some insurance companies have created new biohazard coverage or added it to existing policies.
  • Residential cleaning firms need to reassure customers that cleaning practices and equipment are safe to bring into their homes. Firms are encouraged to outline infection prevention in their proposals, assess their equipment performance, look professional, be transparent with clients, communicate cleaning protocols, and re-brand with language around infection prevention.
  • Industry experts believe third-party cleanliness certifications – from companies such as Fitwel and Well Building Standard – posted at entryways will be in higher demand as employees and customers will want assurances that the spaces they enter are safe and meet cleanliness standards, according to Fortune. The Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) has developed a COVID-19 protection training and certification course for cleaning professionals. The course covers proper cleaning procedures, infection control, worksite safety precautions, and documentation and communication protocols. It also follows all CDC, OSHA, and EPA guidelines. Janitorial services firms may want their employees to complete third-party certifications to assure customers the company’s services follow accepted best practices. However, some industry watchers suggest a patchwork of certifications is inadequate. The Service Employees International Union is calling for cleanliness standards and regulation at the city and state level that’s on par with health department certifications for restaurants.
  • Deaths of cleaning workers from COVID-19 are increasing awareness about providing proper training and PPE to janitorial and other cleaning staff. After two custodian deaths in Minnesota from COVID-19, leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) called on local leaders to do more to protect cleaning workers, including ensuring they have masks and gloves, and specific COVID-19 safety training. In a recent SEIU survey of its members, 20% said their employer didn’t provide gloves; 40% said they were not provided with masks.
  • As the pandemic has worn on, building and property managers have become more educated about the differences between cleaning and disinfecting. They are also becoming more aware of remediation firms that may unfairly increase the price if the job requires disinfecting a space where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19. Carpet cleaning firms that offer disinfecting services should offer price transparency and ensure their products, equipment, and certifications are appropriate for viral mitigation.

January 14, 2021

  • Holiday retail sales, a driver of demand for paper products, increased 3% year over year in 2020, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse.
  • Research firm Moody's Analytics says that retailers can expect increasingly favorable operating conditions in 2021 as the economy gradually rebounds from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our current 2021 forecast is for 6.2% growth in core retail sales,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics for Moody’s Analytics.
  • Many legal experts agree that corporations can require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. "Requiring a vaccine is a health and safety work rule, and employers can do that," said Dorit Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. There are, however, some exceptions to a blanket requirement. A collective bargaining agreement may require negotiating with a union before mandating a vaccine. Anti-discrimination laws also provide some protections. The Americans with Disabilities Act allows workers who don't want to be vaccinated for medical reasons to request an exemption.
  • Health experts have determined that the risk of coming in contact with the coronavirus by handing grocery items like packages of fruits and vegetables is extremely small. Information on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “because of the poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely a very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.” The site also notes that no cases of COVID-19 have been linked to people touching food or food packaging and then touching their faces. There is now wide agreement among health experts that the coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets in the air, according to USA Today.
  • Many paper products manufacturers have lost access to some or all of the recycled pulp and paper used as inputs. Industry experts say that many firms have switched to pulp or paper inputs sourced directly from trees (aka virgin materials), adding significant costs and harming the environment. A key cause of declining availability of recycled pulp and paper is the closure of many businesses, which are the source of most recyclable paper. The material is typically of a higher quality than what is gotten from residential recycling and is less expensive to collect. Some manufacturers can adapt by making more use of household recyclables, which are being generated in large volumes under the lockdown, but switching among different types of recyclables can be difficult.
  • The McDonalds restaurant chain will test reusable plastic cups at some UK locations in 2021. Customers who purchase a hot drink will have the choice of typical disposable cup or a reusable plastic cup and lid that can later be put in a special bin to be collected and sterilized for another customer. McDonalds is considering similar packaging for other products.

January 14, 2021

  • Up to $1 billion of the federal stimulus package passed in late December 2020 has been allocated for contract growers of livestock and poultry to cover up to 80% of income lost due to the pandemic. Growers suffered when processors reduced production.
  • The $900 billion coronavirus relief package includes a $300 weekly unemployment supplement, $600 direct payments, and $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Pet food manufacturers are likely to benefit if the plan helps stabilize consumer finances. The aid to consumers comes as millions of Americans struggle to pay for food and housing, and face the loss of eviction protections that expire on January 31, 2021. Many of the lenders that took part in the PPP program during the spring said that they were ready to make more loans, but no timetable was offered for how quickly loans will be made available. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the legislation "a good bill" but said it "cannot be the end of the story."
  • Online pet food sales have shown strong growth during the coronavirus pandemic. Pet food and supplies e-commerce firm Chewy’s outlook for its fiscal Q3 anticipates 38% to 40% higher sales than during fiscal Q3 2019. The company also raised its full-year guidance for fiscal 2020, replacing its earlier sales prognosis of $6.55 billion to $6.65 billion with a higher estimate of $6.775 billion to $6.825 billion.
  • Lower livestock prices and profit margins for livestock farmers are reducing the demand for feed because of tighter budget constraints. Industry experts say that restaurant closures have reduced the demand for high value meats in bulk packaging while demand for small consumer-packaged hamburger, chicken, and pork has increased. Farm level prices for beef, chicken, and pork have decreased faster than feed prices as a result. Total livestock numbers are forecast to increase slightly during 2021, but increased use of forages in beef and dairy rations could limit the amount of extra feed needed.
  • The global animal food market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8% from 2021 and reach $299.8 billion in 2023, according to Business Wire

January 15, 2021

  • The biggest increases in at-home eating during the coronavirus pandemic occurred in three dayparts — morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack, according to the NPD Group. Consumers have increased their snack food consumption about 8% during the pandemic.
  • Snack food manufacturing companies including General Mills and PepsiCo are bolstering production in anticipation of increased grocery buying this winter as COVID-19 cases rise. Some are revamping existing facilities, while others are working with third-party manufacturers called copackers or breaking ground on new plants, according to Business Insider. "We typically always ramp up for the holiday, but our system now will ramp up another million-and-a-half cases, which is on-par with the inventory we would have had to have for the first wave of COVID," said Mike Del Pozzo, senior vice president of sales and chief customer officer at Frito-Lay North America. PepsiCo officials say that their internal data suggests that almost 60% of consumers are consuming more snacks as a result of staying indoors and eating at home during the pandemic.
  • Snack food manufacturers are facing a changing retail landscape that offers fewer products to consumers who are doing less browsing and focusing on the ease with which items can be purchased again, according to The Washington Post. Americans are spending more but are being offered fewer choices, both online and in person. Grocery stores have responded by focusing on restocking their top-selling 1,000 items. Food manufacturers are focused on producing more of the top-selling varieties of a particular product, pushing off the launch of different flavors or spinoffs until sample stations can return. The number of packaged food products available on the Internet fell 21% globally from January to May, according to Euromonitor International (EI). Nine out of the 10 biggest countries by retail sales saw a drop in the number of unique SKUs available online, according to EI.
  • US demand for snack food is forecast to grow 2.7% yearly through 2024, according to the Freedonia Group.
  • Large food manufacturers have learned from the supply chain impacts of COVID-19, and are preparing to ensure that their businesses are prepared if a second wave hits, according to ABC News. "Established, major brands in categories like snacks and cereal have seen a resurgence, in part by an initial move to nostalgia triggered by the uncertain times, and in part because they maintained more shelf space versus newer entrants as retailers chose to focus on the larger manufacturers," according to Glenn Pappalardo, of food industry consulting firm JPG Resources. "Smaller players were forced to push more of their products through e-commerce," Pappalardo added. "If there is a second wave," Pappalardo said, "we are likely to see a lot of these same behaviors resume or continue, although likely in a tempered fashion, as the entire industry is a bit more educated and prepared for it at this point."

January 15, 2021

  • Sales at health and personal care stores increased 1% month over month on an adjusted basis in December 2020 and 7.3% year over year on an unadjusted basis, according to the US Census Bureau. Sales were up 1.7% year over year for all of 2020. Total retail sales decreased 0.7% month over month on an adjusted basis in December 2020 but increased 4.8% year over year on an unadjusted basis, according to the US Census Bureau. Total retail sales increased 0.6% year over year for all of 2020.
  • A $900 billion coronavirus relief package signed into law in late December 2020 includes a $300 weekly unemployment supplement, $600 direct payments, and $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Soap and toilet preparation manufacturers are likely to benefit if the plan helps stabilize consumer finances. The aid to consumers comes as millions of Americans struggle to pay for food and housing, and face the loss of eviction protections that expire on January 31, 2021. Many of the lenders that took part in the PPP program during the spring said that they were ready to make more loans, but no timetable was offered for how quickly loans will be made available. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the legislation "a good bill" but said it "cannot be the end of the story."
  • A Maryland company will pay a $550,000 settlement after an investigation concluded that it falsely marketed a hand sanitizer product sold to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MTBA) as effective at combating COVID-19. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey concluded that the company misleadingly described Theraworx Protect as sanitizing in a "30-second flash" and providing six hours of protective effects against the highly infectious virus, but in fact, the product contained no alcohol. COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available. The MBTA had placed three large purchase orders of the hand sanitizer, though Healey's office said it intervened before any were paid for.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers and health care professionals about the dangers of hand sanitizer products containing methanol. Methanol is often used to create fuel and antifreeze, and is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizer products. Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. The FDA has seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol but have tested positive for methanol contamination. State officials have reported adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations, and death following the ingestion of hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol.
  • Many domestic beauty brands have been scrambling to find enough bottles and containers for their skin and hair products. Now manufacturers of soap and hand sanitizers face a shortage of hand-pump dispensers. Surging demand for soap and hand sanitizer has created a severe shortage, the price of pumps has skyrocketed, and deliveries that typically take five weeks are taking months. Hygiene companies have been redesigning some packaging and are encouraging customers to reuse the pumps that they already have. Closures of factories that make bottles have left beauty product manufacturers scrambling as beauty product sales increase. “The shortage of bottles for beauty brands is affecting everything from delayed deliveries to out-of-stock products, as companies search for alternative bottling options,” according to Allison Ullo of the public relations firm With Sara. “We are seeing price impacts passed along [as they] source from other vendors — or existing vendors source from other vendors — with prices increasing 5 to 10% over normal pricing,” Ullo said. “The largest impact is lead time — doubling, tripling, or beyond for packaging.”

Hardest Hit Industries

December 28, 2020

Research firm Moody's Analytics says that retailers can expect increasingly favorable operating conditions in 2021 as the economy gradually rebounds from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our current 2021 forecast is for 6.2% growth in core retail sales,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics for Moody’s Analytics. Early holiday deals boosted same-store Q3 sales growth to levels that Best Buy has not seen in 25 years. Same-store sales grew nearly 23% year over year during the period as shoppers continued to invest in at-home technology. Online sales grew 174%, trailing only the record growth of the prior quarter. About 78% of respondents to a holiday shopping survey conducted by technology, media, and marketing news site Street Fight indicated that they would be doing more shopping in late October and early November this year, which is earlier than usual. About 56% of respondents will spend less this year on holiday gifts and 66% plan to shop for gifts online. Retail sales for the electronics and appliance store industry decreased 3% in value month over month and declined 10% year over year in November. Sales were down 14.1% in value year over year for the first 11 months of 2020. Employment in the electronics and appliance store industry declined 6.6% year over year in October but was up 31.9% compared to the low of May.

December 25, 2020

  • Vehicle sales are expected to have declined 15% in volume year over year in 2020, according to Edmunds.com. It would be the fourth-largest annual decline since at least 1980. Experts note, however that lower fleet sales and higher vehicle prices have led to better-than-expected earnings for automakers and record profits for many publicly traded dealer groups.
  • Average transaction prices are expected to have reached another all-time high in November, rising 8.3% to $37,099. Disciplined incentives and discounting, along with the shift towards more expensive trucks and SUVs, remains the key drivers.
  • New vehicle sales will increase 12.4% to 16.3 million units in 2021, up from a final estimate of 14.5 million in 2020, according to economists from the University of Michigan.
  • Retail sales for auto dealers decreased 1.7% in value month over month and 2.9% in value year over year in November 2020 and were unchanged in value year over year for the first 11 months of the year.
  • Employment in the auto dealer industry declined 5.8% year over year in November but was up 20.6% compared to the low of April.
  • Dealers continue to push online sales, such as General Motors’ “Shop-Click-Drive” program. Some states have restrictions on automotive transactions and require signatures on paperwork in person, according to the Wall Street Journal.

December 27, 2020

  • Total US car rental revenue is projected by Auto Rental News to have declined 27.4% year over year in 2020. The projected $23.22 billion in revenue for 2020 is the lowest since 2011. Avis Budget Group and Hertz Global Holdings reported a cumulative drop in revenues of over 50% for the second and third quarters.
  • A majority of respondents to an Auto Rental News survey conducted in October reported that their staffing levels had at least stayed the same from the second into the third quarters. About 23% of respondents reported staffing increases.
  • About 45% of respondents to the Auto Rental News survey said that their revenue had decreased less during Q3 than during the first half of 2020. About 14% said that revenue hadn’t declined during Q3 while 14% said that it had increased.
  • The Atlanta City Council has extended rental relief for car rental agencies at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport through June 30, 2021. Rental car companies are allowed to pay rent based on a portion of their revenue rather than paying a flat rate. Hartsfield-Jackson, one of the world’s busiest airports, has budgeted for a steep decline in revenue due to the pandemic. Atlanta airport general manager John Selden has said a full recovery from the effects of COVID-19 could take two to five years. Hundreds of unused rental vehicles remain parked in off-site lots after airport rental car center lots filled to capacity, due to a nearly complete halt in travel because of the coronavirus. Rental car companies are still charged fees by airports, which may include a guaranteed minimum of approximately 10% of a firm’s expected gross annual revenue.
  • An Auto Rental News survey data suggests that 12% to 15% of US independent and franchised car rental operators have shut down, perhaps temporarily, possibly for good. Small operators have rapidly adopted contactless rental and delivery services, while also implementing drastic rate reductions to remain in business. Airport operators have experimented with expanding into the local rental business.

January 1, 2021

  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased to 88.6 in December 2020 from a downwardly-revised 92.9 in November. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions deteriorated sharply in December, as the resurgence of Covid-19 remains a drag on confidence,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.
  • Local advertising will rebound along with the greater economy through 2021, according to the latest US Local Advertising Forecast published by BIA Advisory Services. BIA expects total local advertising expenditures to rise 2.5% year over year in 2021. About 22.7% of the increase is expected to come from direct mail and 17% each from mobile and online advertising. Local TV and radio round out the top five, accounting for 11.4% and 9.2% of the total, respectively.
  • Media buyers who have a “very clear” or “somewhat clear” idea of their 2021 budgets said that their ad spending will increase 5.3% in 2021. Only 30% of advertising executives have a clear idea of their budgets, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, leaving 70% with vague or nonexistent estimates for 2021.
  • US advertising marketplace growth slowed to 0.7% year over year in October, down from 2.7% year over year in September and 5.9% in August, according to a MediaPost analysis of Standard Media Index’s US Ad Market Tracker. Digital continues to drive growth, rising 24.7% during the period. The growth likely reflects a shift by many big advertisers into accelerated digital and ecommerce strategies during the pandemic, according to MediaPost.
  • Total advertising spending is expected to have declined 8% in 2020. Spending on traditional media that includes linear TV, out-of-home, standard radio, print, and direct mail is expected to have declined 30%.

December 28, 2020

  • Caterers that have pivoted toward dropping off food for business or social gatherings — rather than providing full service at events — have suffered, according to Melissa Wilson, principal at research firm Technomic. “One of the bigger financial challenges in catering is, when you offer a full service, from bartenders to servers to people cleaning up, you are able to charge way more and make more profit than you ever can dream of,” explained caterer Christine McEnery. “When you’re dropping things off in Tupperware, there’s a huge change in the customer’s perception of value.”
  • A federal district court judge allowed a lawsuit brought by caterers challenging New York state’s 50-person limit on social gatherings to move forward. The state’s motion to dismiss the complaint was denied, with the judge ruling that the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter” to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” The complaint alleges that the state is arbitrarily treating caterers differently from restaurants under the coronavirus restrictions because restaurants are not limited to 50 people on premises.
  • Many caterers say that they expect their business to be down between 80% and 90% in 2020, according to the New York Times. Corporate cafeterias that they provide food and staff to remain closed. Events like graduation and anniversary parties, bar mitzvahs, charity dinners, and weddings have been canceled or pushed into next year. One caterer, who had 40 of 47 weddings pushed into 2021, bought a smoker and is developing barbeque skills, aspiring to become a female pitmaster. Another switched to take-home meals, then switched again to establish a pop-up restaurant on the outdoor patio of an unoccupied corporate cafeteria.
  • Outdoor weddings alleviate some of the concerns related to COVID-19. “Outdoors will be one of the safest ways to host a wedding for a variety of reasons. First, you have fresh air at all times, so the air is not being moved around by air conditioners, thus keeping the air at the party fresh. Also, when you have a tented wedding, you can make the tent larger to allow for more social distancing between tables. Ballrooms [can be] too restrictive when it comes to requiring more space,” stated the owner and planner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli.
  • COVID-19 forced many engaged couples to postpone their weddings and a small percentage canceled their event. In a survey by The Wedding Report, 21% of couples were postponing to later in 2020 and 41.5% moved their weddings to 2021. The survey also revealed that 7.0% of couples canceled altogether, while 30.5% of hopefuls held on to their dates. In addition, 46% of couples are cutting their wedding budget by an average of 31%; 58% of couples are cutting their budget by an average of 41%. More alarming, 58% of wedding vendors, which include caterers, expected to lose more weddings in 2020.
  • Social distancing has initiated the development of the “microwedding,” according to Catersource. Different from eloping, microweddings include the elements of a traditional ceremony and reception on a much smaller scale. Guest lists average about 25 to 30 individuals, which allow the bride and groom to celebrate for a few thousand dollars, a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding. According to the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), weddings account for about half of industry revenue.
  • Because of COVID-19, events may no longer include passed hors d’oeuvres, buffets, or family-style service. The elaborate dessert and sweet displays that had grown popular pre-pandemic will likely take a break as events adapt to a new normal. Industry experts predict more creatively pre-wrapped individual servings, hygienic serving stations, and the return of the beautifully plated dessert, according to Special Events. The resurgence of classic homestyle desserts is also possible as hosts gravitate towards simplicity. In some cases, pastry chefs may have to adapt to limited ingredients because of constraints within the supply chain.

December 25, 2020

  • A $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed by the US Congress on December 22 includes a $300 weekly unemployment supplement, $600 direct payments, and $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans. Clothing stores are likely to benefit if the plan helps stabilize consumer finances. The aid to consumers comes as millions of Americans struggle to pay for food and housing, and face the potential loss of unemployment benefits and eviction protections when 2020 ends. Many of the lenders that took part in the spring said that they were ready to make more loans, but no timetable was offered for how quickly loans will be made available. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the legislation "a good bill" but said it "cannot be the end of the story."
  • Gap Inc., the owner of the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy chains, plans to have closed 30% of its Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America by the beginning of 2024. “We’ve been overly reliant on low-productivity, high-rent stores,” said Mark Breitbard, global head of the Gap brand. About 80% of revenue from Gap and Banana Republic is expected to come from e-commerce and off-mall locations like outlet stores and strip mall spaces. Industry experts say that the closures may be due in part to avoidance by shoppers of enclosed malls due to coronavirus concerns.
  • Retail sales for clothing stores decreased 6.8% in value month over month and 19.2% year over year in November. Sales declined 28.5% year over year during the first 11 months of 2020.
  • Employment in the clothing store industry declined 24.8% year over year in October but was up 128% compared to the low of April.
  • Retailer J. Jill managed to stave off bankruptcy by working with lenders and securing at least $15 million in loans. Ascena Retail, owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, filed for bankruptcy in mid-July. The company will close 1,600 of its approximately 2,800 stores and hopes to shed $1 billion of its $1.1 billion in debt, according to the New York Times.
  • Brooks Brothers, New York & Co., and Lucky Brand filed for bankruptcy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chains followed J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores, and J.C. Penney in filing Chapter 11. UBS analysts said that "retail store closures are likely to accelerate in a post-COVID-19 world."

December 2, 2020

  • About 46% of respondents to Longwoods International’s travel sentiment study conducted from December 16 through 20, 2020, said that they’re holding off on travel planning until COVID-19 vaccinations become available and the impact of vaccine(s) becomes clear. That’s an increase of five percentage points from survey results recorded two weeks prior, and up from about 33% who said the same back in October.
  • About 80% of COVID-19 infections that occurred during the pandemic’s first wave could be traced to crowded indoor locations like restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, and hotels according to research by scientists at Stanford and Northwestern universities, Microsoft Research, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. Restaurants were four times riskier locations than gyms and coffee shops. The second-riskiest location was hotels. Researchers used cellphone mobility data from 10 cities, tracking hourly movements and factoring in reductions in mobility due to lockdown restrictions and other changes. Schools and offices were not examined.
  • Hotel occupancy fell 37.9% year over year during the week ending December 5, 2020, to 37.4%, but remained above the April 5-11 low of 22%, according to STR. The average daily rate dropped 33.1% year over year to $86.21 and RevPAR fell 58.4% to $32.23.
  • Employment in the hotels and motels industry decreased 32.3% year over year in October but was up 33.5% from the low of May.
  • Despite slow improvement, the US hotel industry is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, according to STR, due to lower occupancy, discounting driven by competition, and slow recovery for ADR.
  • CBRE Hotels Research forecasted an annual occupancy level of 42.6% across all US hotels in 2020, the lowest annual occupancy recorded since 1933, as reported by Hotel Management. At an occupancy rate of 35% or lower, hotels may simply close their doors. CBRE projects an annual decline in RevPAR of 46% for 2020, a decrease greater than that which occurred in 1932 (a decline of 24.7%).
  • Airbnb laid off 25% of its workforce due to the coronavirus’ effect on tourism.

January 6, 2021

  • The $900 billion stimulus package passed in late December 2020 includes roughly $15 billion in aid for struggling movie theaters, live venues, and other cultural institutions. The funding is provided through the "Save Our Stages" legislation that was included in the stimulus package. “More help is on the way,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said as he announced the deal on the Senate floor. Many details that will determine how the money will be allocated were not worked out as of early January 2021, but large theater chains and those that are publicly held or foreign-owned were explicitly excluded from the program.
  • North American box office revenue decreased 80% year over year in 2020, according to media measurement and analytics company Comscore. Many movies are being released directly to streaming services, skipping traditional theaters altogether.
  • Regal Cinemas is hoping to reopen theaters in New York City and Los Angeles by March 2021. The owner of Regal Cinemas, the second-largest cinema chain in America, has secured a $450 million loan from lenders as coronavirus cases spike and theaters across the country remain closed.
  • The National Association of Theater Owners released a set of health and safety protocols based on research and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The guidelines outline comprehensive mask policies, recommendations for reduced capacity screenings, air filtration optimization, cashless concessions, mobile ticketing, enhanced cleaning policies, and employee health training about hand hygiene and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Research company MoffettNathanson predicts that revenues from ticket sales will fall 52% year over year to $5.5 billion in 2020. MoffettNathanson predicts “a significant bounce back” in 2021 to $9.7 billion due to “a stronger release slate.” The number could fall lower if film production can’t resume safely and if studios begin putting more of their movies on streaming services or on demand.

January 14, 2021

  • Investment bank Goldman Sachs forecasts that global benchmark Brent prices will average $60 per barrel in Q2 2021 and reach $65 per barrel in July.
  • About 75% of respondents to a Texas Alliance of Energy Producers survey conducted between Nov. 9 and Nov. 25 believe that the industry will be better (44%) or about the same (31%) one year from now. About 38% are neutral about the outlook for their own businesses, while 33% are positive. Nearly one-third are negative.
  • Oklahoma-based natural gas explorer and producer Gulfport Energy Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in mid-November. Industry experts say that the company was struggling before the pandemic outbreak and finally succumbed to lower crude prices caused by declining demand. Company officials say that a restructuring agreement in place with most of its creditors provides $262.5 million in financing to let it keep operating during the bankruptcy process. That financing will be rolled up with additional exit financing to give it liquidity when it leaves the court.
  • The spot price of West Texas intermediate (WTI) crude was $52.87 per barrel on January 13. The price had remained between $37 and $42 from September through early November 2020 but has been rising steadily since. The break-even price for the average oil well drilled in shale fields is roughly $45 a barrel.
  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its oil and gas demand forecast again in December 2020, citing a weaker-than-expected economic outlook and a surge in coronavirus cases. The group of oil-producing nations' projection for 2021 oil demand is 95.89 million barrels per day (bpd), down 410,000 from its November projection of 96.3 million bpd and its October Projection of 96.8 million bpd.
  • Multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell has cut the value of its oil and gas assets by nearly $17 billion to reflect a pessimistic outlook for oil and gas prices. The company now anticipates significantly lower oil and gas prices over the next 30 years. Shell's CEO said that the firm was looking at ways to reposition itself given that an energy transition was likely to "come at us even faster" as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Oil and gas giant BP wrote off $18 billion worth of its assets, significantly reducing the stated value of its oil and gas reserves. The coronavirus outbreak has prompted a more radical reassessment of BP’s future role and what its assets are worth, according to Bloomberg news service. BP’s assumption is that the long-term price of Brent crude will be about $55 per barrel, up to 30% lower than it thought previously. On that basis, some fields won’t earn adequate returns, and will never be developed, according to Bloomberg news service.
  • Industry experts say that oil and gas companies are staying afloat because they have cut spending and laid off more than 107,000 workers. Firms are also benefiting from lower oil-field service company bids to extract crude.
  • Energy industry analysts say that the wave of bankruptcies triggered by sustained low oil prices could allow the largest petroleum industry players to buy more wells, leaving them with more reserves in the long run. Small and midsize companies working mainly in the Permian Basin and other shale patches have been hit the hardest by the drop in prices. Major firms, however, have wells around the world and sufficient liquidity to survive the crisis. “Certainly there are stresses on the various players in the industry today that could result in commercial opportunities, and we are alert to that,” Chevron chief executive Mike Wirth has said. Smaller firms, including Denver-based shale producer Whiting Petroleum and Houston-based ocean operator Diamond Offshore Drilling, have already filed for bankruptcy.

January 14, 2021

  • Public records examined by industry analysts show that energy companies stockpiled enough drilling permits for western public lands in the closing months of the Trump administration to keep pumping oil for years. Experts say that the moves will undercut President-elect Biden's plans to curb new drilling because of climate change. The permit stockpiling has centered on oil-rich federal lands in New Mexico and Wyoming.
  • The US oilfield services sector lost 91,680 jobs due to pandemic-related oil demand destruction, according to a December 2020 report from the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association. Demand for drilling services sank after oil prices collapsed earlier this year, pushing several oilfield services firms to file for bankruptcy, incur heavy losses, and cut jobs. Easing of virus-related restrictions has led to a rebound in demand for fuel and related products, however, and employment has risen for three straight months. An estimated 9,254 jobs were added from September through November, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • A rule proposed in November by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) would prohibit the largest US banks from refusing to lend to entire business sectors. The proposal follows years of complaints by Republican lawmakers about what they say are increasingly partisan and discriminatory lending practices by big banks that are under pressure from investors and staff to curb lending to industries including fossil-fuel companies, private prisons, and firearms makers. The rule, if approved, would apply to banks that may exert significant pricing power or influence over sectors of the national economy.
  • About 75% of the pandemic-driven jobs losses in the US petroleum and chemical sectors may not come back before the end of 2021, according to professional services firm Deloitte. Oil, gas and, chemical jobs have become more sensitive to changes in commodity prices since the beginning of what Deloitte calls the North American shale revolution. A $1 change in oil prices now affects about 3,000 oil and gas jobs, double the impact it would have had during the 1990s, according to Deloitte.
  • President Trump signed permits that grant approval for oil pipeline and railway infrastructure operation and expansion on US borders. Two permits are for oil export infrastructure along the US-Mexico border to boost exports of crude to Mexico. One permit grants NuStar Energy permission to operate and maintain existing pipelines underneath the Rio Grande River that transport hydrocarbons and petroleum products through a 46-mile pipeline from Hidalgo County into northern Mexico. Another permit allows Kansas City Southern Railway to build and operate a new international railway bridge in Laredo, TX, the type of cross-border project on the international boundary that requires a presidential permit. Mexico is the biggest importer of US crude oil, according to the Department of Energy. Mexico is also a major buyer of U.S. natural gas and it is set to buy ever more of the commodity as production begins to rebound in Texas, according to industry news site Oil Price.
  • The spot price of West Texas intermediate (WTI) crude was $52.87 per barrel on January 13. The price had remained between $37 and $42 from September through early November 2020 but has been rising steadily since. The break-even price for the average oil well drilled in shale fields is roughly $45 a barrel.
  • The Henry Hub natural gas spot price was $2.74 per million British thermal units (Btus) on January 13, up a low of $1.63 per million Btus in June 2020, the lowest price, adjusted for inflation, since at least 1989, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
  • US oil production is thought to have troughed in June 2020, but may not recover to pre-pandemic levels until late 2021, according to energy research firm Rystad Energy. The recovery is expected to vary by area. The Permian Basin of West Texas, offshore Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska are expected to gain the most market share. "Even in the Permian Basin, we might need to wait until 2022 or a better oil price, before the basin can again achieve its first quarter 2020 production record of close to 5 million barrels per day," Rystad Energy’s Head of Shale Research Artem Abramov said.

December 28, 2020

  • A $2.3 trillion omnibus US fiscal bill signed into law on December 27 provides $15 billion in funding to Save Our Stages, a program that will make funding available for independent live music and entertainment venues. The aid will come in the form of multi-million dollar grants intended to fund building expenses such as rents and mortgages, and to keep arts workers employed with paycheck protection loans. Save Our Stages was originally included in the Heroes Act coronavirus stimulus package that was voted down in early October.
  • Tourism will not fully rebound in New York City (NYC) for at least four years, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency. Performing arts groups are likely to be among the businesses that are negatively impacted. NYC & Company counts all overnight guests and anyone who travels from more than 50 miles away as a visitor. Its new forecast calls for 38.2 million visitors in 2021, rising to 69 million by 2024. NYC drew a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019.
  • In the survey, 63% of artists reported becoming fully unemployed because of COVID-19 and 95% experienced income loss from COVID-19. The average decline in estimated total annual income per creative worker was $22,000. Two-thirds said they could not access the supplies, resources, spaces, and people necessary for their creative work.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has forced smaller performing arts groups to pivot and innovate to deliver live performances and survive financially. Groups have performed for tiny audiences (sometimes just two patrons), reduced theater capacity dramatically (25%), installed plexiglass between seats, and performed in parking lots (giving an entirely new definition to “street theater”). The American Shakespeare Center will rotate “Othello” and “Twelfth Night” between indoor and outdoor stages, so audiences can choose where they are most comfortable, and the cast has quarantined themselves, according to the New York Times. “We’d rather go down creating good theater than die the slow death behind our desks,” said Bryan Fonseca, the producing director of Fonseca Theater Company in Indianapolis.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded 40% of the $75 million appropriated through the CARES Act directly to state and regional arts agencies to distribute through their funding programs during April. The remaining 60% will go towards direct grants to nonprofit arts organizations and be announced by June 30.
  • Most nonprofit arts organizations operate with lean budgets so the loss of earned income can have an outsized impact, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). About one-fifth of arts organizations are non-profit organizations, and “about 40% of artistic non-profits operate at the break-even point at the best of times,” according to The Hill. Income from “ticket sales, books, concessions, and souvenirs, which account for about 60% of revenues for nonprofit arts groups, have all but evaporated.” Donors, who include wealthy individuals and corporations that account for about 30% of revenue, are also stretched thin trying to accommodate the needs of multiple non-profits. Grants from state and local governments are in jeopardy. “And the arts may be among the last sectors to find relief once the pandemic starts coming under control.”
  • Performing arts groups around the world are streaming performances to keep audiences engaged while their venues are shut down because of the coronavirus. The Metropolitan Opera offers different “encore” presentations from the company’s Live in HD series on its website. The League of Orchestras also offers livestreams and video performances through Symphony Spot. The new streaming service Broadway on Demand kicked-off programming with “30 Days of Opening Nights.”

December 30, 2020

  • Increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines may not immediately result in a large scale return of restaurant patrons. Current coronavirus pandemic models project a months-long gap between when the majority of the population will be allowed to receive a vaccine and when its distribution will be widespread enough for people to gather without social distancing or enhanced hygiene measures, according to BISNOW. Studies of the COVID-19 vaccines only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer. It is possible to become infected with the coronavirus and be asymptomatic, meaning you never develop symptoms. Asymptomatic people can still spread COVID-19.
  • A Big Boy restaurant in Michigan lost its franchise after the owners refused to stop indoor dining as part of statewide restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Big Boy’s corporate office told the owners that they had 24 hours to comply with a state order, but the owners refused. “We would be open only for carry-out," said Troy Tank, part owner and operations manager for the restaurant. "We were not in a position to do that again. We had already done it for three months earlier in quarantine.”
  • Virtual restaurants — commercial kitchens that operate through delivery services and do not have a physical dine-in space — are increasing in number due to the coronavirus pandemic. They may be extensions of existing brick-and-mortar restaurants or startups using rented kitchen space. The need to replace lost revenue combined with a greater emphasis on carryout and delivery is driving growth. Industry experts say that full-service operators that were already experimenting with off-premises options prior to the pandemic were best positioned to capitalize on the model.
  • Sales in food service and drinking places decreased 4% in value month over month and 19.3% year over year in November . Sales decreased 19.4% in value year over year for the first 11 months of 2020.
  • Employment in the restaurant industry decreased 13.7% year over year in October but was up 63.7% compared to the low of April.
  • Numerous states have paused or rolled back reopening due to rising COVID-19 counts. Stops and starts related to infection rates are especially difficult for restaurants because food supplies and ingredients can be perishable. Many restaurant owners spent thousands of dollars to equip dining rooms and staff for a new normal and were just starting to recover some sales lost during the spring, according to the New York Times. Public health officials suspect that crowded restaurants could be contributing to the virus’ spread.
  • The US restaurant industry expects losses totaling $240 billion through the end of 2020, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), assuming a gradual reopening of the economy in June.

December 29, 2020

  • About 23% of respondents to Longwoods International’s travel sentiment study conducted from December 16 through 20, 2020, said that they expect to take their first trip of 2021 during the summer months, while another 24% expect to travel in the spring. Some 26% of respondents don't know when they’ll be taking their first trip of 2021.
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is in the process of finalizing a digital COVID-19 passport that would include information about a traveler’s COVID-19 testing and vaccinations that would be verified by labs, airlines, and government agencies, according to several news reports. The IATA hopes that it will be universally accepted documentation that in turn could boost confidence among wary travelers. No governments have enforced a requirement for travelers to get vaccinated before entering another country. However, the CEO of Australian airline Qantas has stated his intentions for the carrier to require vaccinations ahead of international travel.
  • December 27, 2020, was the busiest day for US airports since mid-March, underscoring concerns that a spike in holiday travel may contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for 11% of pre-pandemic employment in the US, yet had suffered 36% of all job losses by October —up from 33% in July, according to Tourism Economics.
  • Travel spending in the US is expected to have decreased 45% year over year in 2020 and not return to its pre-pandemic strength by 2024, according to the US Travel Association. The drop reflects a 34% decrease in domestic leisure travel spending and even sharper drop-offs in the lucrative domestic business travel (55%) and international inbound (77%) markets.
  • Employment in the travel arrangement and reservation services industry decreased 31% year over year in November. Employment peaked in February and has declined every month since. Employment was down 30.8% in November from the 2020 peak in February.
  • The Cruise Lines International Association announced that cruises will not restart at US ports until at least February 2021. A few single-nationality cruises in Europe and Asia have restarted and are sailing to a limited number of ports, usually in the country of origin. Carnival Corporation announced it would shed 18 cruise ships, 12% of its fleet, as it continues to cut costs while cruising in most of the world remains banned.
  • Commission payment policies changed for travel agencies due to the global travel shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Some suppliers initially paid commissions on refunded bookings, a practice that has largely stopped because of the extent of the travel shutdown. Many suppliers offered credit for future travel, which delays commissions because payments are tied to travel dates. Some cruise lines are only paying commission on the fare difference when a travel credit is applied, essentially cutting the agent’s commission in half or less.
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