Industries Most Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the situation surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, industries have experienced 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

June 19, 2021

  • Legislation that would add another $60 billion in a second round of relief to Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) has been introduced in the US Congress. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 amends the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to increase appropriations to the original Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and for other purposes. Funds distributed to restaurants in the RRF’s first round were prioritized for women, veterans, and economically and socially disadvantaged groups, during its first 21 days. This was later challenged in court, as this policy depleted most of the funds. The $60 billion replenishment round more than doubles the original’s allocation.
  • The Knot Worldwide expects a 20% to 25% increase in weddings in 2021 and into 2022. About 47% of those 2021 weddings are expected to occur between July and October. Demand for catering services is likely to increase as a result. Nearly half of the couples (47%) who planned to marry in 2020 but postponed have rescheduled for 2021 and later dates. A majority of couples who got engaged during the pandemic (73%) also set their wedding date for 2021. A third of couples who married in 2020 expect to have big celebrations when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ends restrictions larger gatherings.
  • 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.”
  • 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.

July 4, 2021

  • The accelerating spread of the Delta coronavirus variant has health officials reconsidering the relaxation of pandemic-related safety measures. The World Health Organization reiterated in late June its longstanding recommendation that everyone — including the inoculated — wear masks to stem the spread of the virus. Los Angeles County public health authorities are urging unvaccinated and vaccinated people alike to don masks again inside restaurants, stores, and other public indoor spaces because of the growing threat posed by the more contagious Delta variant. Demand for fruits and vegetables by hospitality businesses may decline if cases increase.
  • Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the US, said that it expects sales at stores open for at least one year (comparable sales) to decline by 3% to 5% year over year in 2021. Sales increased 14.1% year over year in 2020. Kroger cited the end of consumer stockpiling and the availability of coronavirus vaccines, which makes it possible for consumers to shift back to eating more meals at restaurants and outside of their homes, as a key cause of expected lower sales growth.
  • Other grocers have also forecast year-over-year sales decreases. Sales at Sprouts Farmers Market increased 6.9% year over year in 2020, but the chain said that sales growth will decline to low-to-mid-single digits this year. Walmart projects comparable sales to grow by low single-digits in 2021 after 8.6% growth last year.
  • The aluminum can shortage, which industry experts say has been driven primarily by the coronavirus pandemic and rising demand for cans by craft brewers, continues to constrain some fruit and vegetable manufacturers. Can manufacturer Ball Corporation anticipates "demand continuing to outstrip supply well into 2023." Multiple new US production facilities are in operation, according to Ball executives, and the company is readying to ramp up production in its Pittston, PA, plant in the second half of 2021.
  • 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.
  • Manufacturers and retailers are focusing on making, delivering, and stocking their top-selling items, which can lead to fewer 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.

July 1, 2021

  • The accelerating spread of the Delta coronavirus variant has health officials reconsidering the relaxation of pandemic-related safety measures. Los Angeles County public health authorities are urging unvaccinated and vaccinated people to don masks again inside restaurants, stores and other public indoor spaces because of the growing threat posed by the more contagious Delta variant. The World Health Organization reiterated in late June its longstanding recommendation that everyone — including the inoculated — wear masks to stem the spread of the virus.
  • Trader Joe's, and Walmart are among the major grocery retailers that have dropped mask requirements. Many analysts expect foot traffic to increase at bricks-and-mortar retailers as mask requirements are dropped.
  • Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the US, said that it expects sales at stores open for at least one year (comparable sales) to decline by 3% to 5% year over year in 2021. Sales increased 14.1% year over year in 2020. Kroger cited the end of consumer stockpiling and the availability of coronavirus vaccines, which makes it possible for consumers to shift back to eating more meals at restaurants and outside of their homes, as a key cause of expected lower sales growth.
  • Other grocers have also forecast year-over-year sales decreases. Discount grocer Grocery Outlet said that comparable sales in the first quarter of 2021 are likely to decline into the high-single digits. Sales rose 12.7% last year. Sales at Sprouts Farmers Market increased 6.9% year over year in 2020, but the chain said that sales growth will decline to low-to-mid-single digits this year. Walmart projects comparable sales to grow by low single-digits in 2021 after 8.6% growth last year.
  • Retail sales in the grocery store industry increased 1.2% in value month over month on an adjusted basis but decreased 0.8% in value year over year on an unadjusted basis in May.
  • The response to laws passed in some jurisdictions requiring the provision of hazard pay to frontline essential workers has not been uniform. Trader Joe’s has boosted pandemic pay for its hourly and non-management employees by $2 an hour at stores nationwide. Two grocery industry trade groups – Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Food Industry Association – filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle over a new law that mandates $4 an hour pay raises for grocery store workers. Kroger announced it will close two grocery stores, a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less, both in Long Beach, CA, in response to a local ordinance requiring extra pay for certain grocery employees working during the pandemic.
  • Some grocers are paying employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Aldi grocery chain is providing hourly workers with two hours of pay for each of the two necessary vaccine shots. Aldi, which has 2,000 stores in the US, also said it would help employees pay for the shots. Trader Joe’s and Dollar General are also offering financial incentives while the Instacart grocery delivery service is offering grocery deliverers a $25 stipend, according to National Public Radio.
  • Employment at grocery stores increased 0.8% year over year in April.
  • Food prices are expected to rise 2% to 3% in 2021, 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%.

June 22, 2021

  • Retail sales for building material, garden equipment, and supplies dealers decreased 6% in value month over month on an adjusted basis in May but were up 21.1% in value year over year on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2021. Sales had increased 12.1% in value month over month on an adjusted basis and 32.4% in value year over year on an unadjusted basis in March.
  • Some analysts expect consumers to embark on bigger, pricier home improvement projects as the pandemic wanes. Consumers spent freely on home improvement projects they could handle themselves, like setting up a new office in the house or repainting a teen’s bedroom so it looks better on a Zoom call, but analysts expect them to gravitate to larger, more involved projects like bathroom remodels. Home Center chain Lowes will cater to pro customers by setting up “Pro Zone” areas with prominent signage. These are stocked with the grab-and-go items pros frequently buy and convenience racks with items such as painkillers, snacks, and energy drinks. Lowe’s has added such sections to 95% of its 1,734 US stores. Lowe’s has also set up dedicated parking spots for these customers, who often need to load bigger items into their vehicles. There are also phone-charging stations and a dedicated checkout area. “Time is money for (pros), and they want to get in and out of the store quickly,” Lowe’s executive vice president of merchandising Bill Boltz said.
  • Lowe's said that fourth-quarter 2020 same-store sales climbed 28.1%, as consumers spent more on home projects during the pandemic. The company warned, however, that spending on DIY projects and home improvement could ease as consumers resume normal activities post-pandemic. Chief Financial Officer Dave Denton laid out three scenarios for a robust, moderate or weak market. In a robust market, the retailer's outlook for 2021 anticipates a 5% to 7% drop in demand for the home improvement sector on a mix adjusted basis. In a moderate and weak market, demand would likely drop respectively by 7% to 9% and 10%.
  • Home Depot officials say that sales may be unchanged year over year in 2021 but declined to offer more specific guidance, saying there was still too much uncertainty. Profit margin will continue to be pressured this year by rising transportation costs, Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail said on a call with analysts. Increased spending on infrastructure and more shoplifting will also weigh on profitability. The cost of sales has been increasing faster than revenue growth due to pandemic-related safety precautions.
  • Sales of previously-owned homes decreased 2.7% month over month but were up 33.9% year over year in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. It was the third straight month-over-month decrease. The year-over-year change is likely to have been affected by the large decrease in sales during April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and may not be indicative of future activity. Sales increased 20% year over year for the first four months of 2021, however.
  • Employment in the home center and hardware store industry increased 0.4% year over year in April.
  • Homebuilder sentiment, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, was unchanged at 83 in May. The Index was at 82 in March and 84 in February. A reading of more than 50 indicates a positive outlook; a reading under 50 indicates a negative outlook. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions held steady at 88, and the gauge charting sales expectations in the next six months rose one point to 81. The component measuring traffic of prospective buyers fell one point to 73.

June 26, 2021

  • The National Retail Federation (NRF) revised its 2021 total retail sales forecast to $4.44 trillion, up from $4.33 trillion. Sales will grow between 10.5% and 13.5% year over year, the NRF says. The organization expects online shopping to stay above pre-pandemic levels, but to moderate from 2020 levels.
  • Traditional retailers that have seen their digital sales channels grow tremendously since the start of the coronavirus pandemic are investing heavily to compete more effectively with pure play internet retailers. Target has announced plans for two more regional distribution centers in addition to the two distribution centers it expects to open this year. The company is also planning for five more sortation centers. Sortation centers receive packages from stores and organize them by zip code for local delivery. Walmart is testing a last-mile delivery network of vans to get packages from its stores or distribution centers to customers' homes. Analysts say that the ability to offer similar fulfillment speeds on a comparable selection of items may grow in importance for Walmart and Target to keep their customers' loyalty as more shopping moves online.
  • Consensus is building that consumer spending will increase significantly as the pandemic wanes. “This recession has been very different from historical patterns. It’s highly unusual for households to come out of a recession with an enormous accumulation of savings,” said Eric Hilt, an economics professor at Wellesley College. Decreased spending on high-ticket categories like travel and hospitality coupled with a big increase in some household incomes during the pandemic has resulted in “this giant accumulation of savings that’s historically unprecedented.” The major issue for retailers is whether they can correctly predict what consumers will flock to next, and then keep enough inventory in stock during a period of prolonged disruption in global supply chains.
  • Many analysts say that retailers should prepare for an upcoming pandemic-related spending shift that is increasingly referred to as revenge shopping. Shoppers will sweep through sectors as pent-up demand is unleashed, according to management consulting firm McKinsey. That has been the experience of all previous economic downturns. One difference, however, is that services have been particularly hard hit this time. The bounce back will therefore likely emphasize those businesses, particularly the ones that have a communal element, such as restaurants and entertainment venues. A significant portion of sales may shift from purchases of products back to experiences and services as a result.
  • Retailers send around half as many catalogs as they did 15 years ago, according to the Data and Marketing Association, but that’s still about nine billion a year. The popularity of catalogs declined before some companies reignited them, remaking them as creative pieces of print work primarily intended to inspire consumers, said Jonathan D. Zhang, an assistant professor of marketing at Colorado State University. “The future of catalogs is not going to be a product catalog almost like Sears or Ikea” Zhang said. Consumers were less likely to be drawn into bland product books that listed home appliances, for example, compared to catalogs that showed an elegantly furnished kitchen featuring a state-of-the-art dishwasher, or highlighted beautiful or luxurious items, he said.
  • Global retail e-commerce sales increased 27.6% year over year in 2020, with sales reaching well over $4 trillion, according to eMarketer. Total worldwide retail sales decreased 3% during the period. Ethan Cramer-Flood, analyst at Insider Intelligence, expects the e-commerce sales growth rate to decelerate to some degree in 2021 despite enduring consumer enthusiasm.
  • Non-store retail sales, which include internet and mail-order retailers, decreased 0.8% in value month over month on an adjusted basis in May but increased 21%  year over year on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2021.
  • Employment in the internet and mail-order retail industry increased 13.1% year over year from the pandemic-related low of April 2020.

May 26, 2021

  • Cleaning services providers saw strong growth in the first quarter 2021, according to the Home Service Economic Report: Q1 2021 Edition released in April 2021 by Jobber, a job tracking and customer management software firm. Median revenue for cleaning firms in March 2021 was 20% higher than year-ago levels. New cleaning work scheduled enjoyed record year-over-year growth of 42% in March. New work scheduled and median revenue in the cleaning industry are expected to post very strong year-over-year growth in Q2 2021 given that COVID-19 restrictions drove down demand in Q2 2020.
  • The pandemic raised awareness of cleaning budgets. Sanitizing surfaces became much more of a priority. However, additional guidance regarding COVID-19 issued in early April 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests the virus primarily spreads through the air. The agency said, “It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low.”
  • 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. However, as part of the CDC’s updated surface disinfecting guidelines released in April 2021, The CDC concluded “some types of disinfection applications, particularly those including fogging or misting, are neither safe nor effective for inactivating the virus unless properly used.”
  • 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. Some cleaning and restoration companies that are performing COVID-19 decontamination services found 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.

June 14, 2021

  • Demand for paper bags may increase as retailers drop mask requirements in response to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that fully vaccinated people — those who have received their final Covid-19 vaccination at least two weeks ago — no longer need to wear masks outdoors or in most indoor settings. Starbucks, Trader Joe's, and Target are among the major retailers that have dropped mask requirements. Many analysts expect foot traffic to increase at bricks-and-mortar retailers as mask requirements are dropped.
  • Demand for toilet paper may get another boost if flushable wipes continue causing problems for building owners and water utilities. Disposable wipes that are being flushed down toilets clog pipes, jam pumps, and send raw sewage into homes and waterways. Utilities have urged customers for years to ignore “flushable” labels on increasingly popular, premoistened wipes used by nursing home staffs, potty-training toddlers and people who shun toilet paper. Kimberly-Clark Corporation reached a settlement in April with a Charleston, SC, water utility after the company's Cottonelle "flushable" wipes caused issues when not disintegrated properly in their system.
  • Toilet paper sales decreased 4% year over year in January, according to The Wall Street Journal. Demand has since decelerated at an increased pace. Sales were down 14% year over year in February and 33% in March. “Tissue is just one of those things that has really demonstrated the impact of the pandemic more than others,” said Jonathan Rager of Fastmarkets RISI, an analytics firm specializing in the pulp and paper industry. The papermaking industry couldn’t accommodate demand in the heat of the pandemic because the cost and time to build a paper mill outweighed the need and margins predicted.
  • Stationery and gift retailer Paper Source has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a plan to sell itself and close at least 11 stores. The move follows by about a year the closure of card and stationery store chain Papyrus, which liquidated in early 2020, and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in July 2020 by The Paper Store. Paper Source had been "enjoying rapid expansion and sustained sales growth" prior to the pandemic, CFO Ronald Kruczynski said in court papers. But, along with its rivals and scores of other specialty retailers, Paper Source "sustained deep financial damage to their finances and operations as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the executive said.
  • 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.

June 14, 2021

  • Pet ownership increased to 70% of US households in 2020 from 67% in 2019, and owners spent 11% more on pet food, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). About 35% of pet owners surveyed by APPA said that they spent more on their pets in 2020 than in 2019. Gen Z and millennial pet owners led the higher spending, with 50% reporting they had spent more on their pets.
  • Red meat was the grocery item cited most often for its higher prices in a Morning Consult survey of 2,200 adults conducted from May 17 to 19 for Bloomberg News. Chicken was cited second most. Demand for meat products may be impacted by the rapidly-increasing prices. “We’ve got these pockets of inflation without having corresponding wage growth, and that’s going to put consumers in a really tough spot,” Morning Consult economist John Leer said in an interview.
  • Beef demand, a driver of demand for animal food, may decline post-pandemic due to declines in supplemental income, reallocation of consumer spending, and shifting consumer behavior, Rabobank analysts said in their report “U.S. Beef Demand: The Risk of Recovery.” The federal government supplemented incomes through stimulus bills, consumers reallocated spending from pre-pandemic expenditures such as travel and restaurant dining, and consumers stockpiled groceries for in-home consumption during the pandemic. “There has traditionally been a stickiness to beef demand, so it seems unlikely that beef demand will completely deteriorate in the face of the potential challenges ahead,” Dustin Aherin, Rabobank animal protein analyst, said. “That said, beef demand will likely fall from its current record highs.”
  • 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 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.

June 15, 2021

  • Grocery store sales decreased 1.2% month over month in May according to the US Census Bureau. Many analysts say that the decrease indicates the beginning of a predicted shift of consumer expenditures to restaurants, lodging, and travel as the pandemic wanes.
  • Kroger is projecting same-store sales to decline 3% to 5% year over year in 2021 following 14.1% growth in 2020. Some experts say that demand for comfort food like snacks is likely to decrease due to the expected "return to normal".
  • J&J Snack Foods president Dan Fachner said that he is starting to see some momentum in the foodservice business as key venues like theaters, amusement parks, sports arenas, and schools start to open and increase capacity. Total Q1 sales decreased 15% year-over-year for J&J, but improvement is expected as vaccines are distributed and the pandemic eases.
  • E-commerce giant Amazon has launched a new private-label food and snack brand called Aplenty. Analysts say that the move is a response to the pandemic-driven increase in at-home snacking and online snack purchases. The brand will feature hundreds of products, including pita chips, crackers, and mini cookies.
  • 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 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.
  • Large food manufacturers have learned from the supply chain impacts of COVID-19, 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."

June 15, 2021

  • Some businesses are practically giving hand sanitizers away as demand plummets following acknowledgement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the risk of catching the coronavirus from surfaces is low. Hand sanitizer sales were down 80% year over year during the first week of May to $9.2 million, while the average unit price consumers pay is down 40% over the same time period, according to NielsenIQ. Retailers are holding buy-one, get-three sales or offering gift cards for buying multiple bottles. “It’s worth more to us gone than it is clogging our shelves,” Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores Inc. in Nebraska, told the Wall Street Journal.
  • Sales of personal care products are rising as vaccination rates climb and social distancing rules are eased. “You can tell that the masks are coming off,” Walmart’s chief financial officer Brett Biggs told The Wall Street Journal, pointing to spiking demand for beauty products and teeth whiteners during Q1. Macy’s and Target also reported strong personal care product sales during Q1.
  • A study of 260 hand sanitizer products revealed elevated levels of benzene in more than 20 of them. Benzene is a known human carcinogen. Exposure to it is known to cause blood disorders, including leukemia. Valisure, the company that conducted the study, has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch an investigation and recall the products found to contain benzine. The FDA said it is reviewing Valisure's petition and continues to test sanitizer products and monitor the market.
  • Sales of beard care products have risen substantially during the coronavirus pandemic. The founder of independent grooming brand Scotch Porter, which reported a near doubling of business in 2020, called beard care “one of our top-selling categories.” Beard-care label Beardbrand has seen a 50% surge in direct-to-consumer sales during the pandemic.
  • The global beauty market is set to surpass 2019 sales in 2021 despite the pandemic’s setbacks according to consulting firm McKinsey. Recovery in beauty is expected to be uneven across categories: haircare, skincare, and personal care are predicted to grow in 2021, while fragrance and color cosmetics sales are expected to fall at an average annual rate of 12% and 2%, respectively. Beauty has made quick rebounds before, bouncing back from the 2008 recession in two years while it took the luxury goods market about three years, according to management consultancy firm Bain.
  • Recouping pandemic losses has meant focusing attention online. Beauty brands that scaled up online operations are reporting e-commerce sales growth 10% to 20% higher than pre-Covid-19 levels. Firms that have not yet adopted an online focus are accelerating their digital plans, reducing them from three years to completion down to as a little as 10 months, says Audrey Depraeter-Montacel, global beauty lead at consulting firm Accenture.
  • 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.

Hardest Hit Industries

June 25, 2021

  • Capacity restrictions have been removed for most amusement parks, but many foreign amusement park enthusiasts can't visit because of continuing restrictions on international travel. International visitors are the most lucrative for theme parks, according to industry analysts. Closed borders contribute to staffing problems too, cutting the flow of international workers that many parks have hired in the past.
  • A Cardify survey of 1,044 consumers found that 72% are excited to return to amusement parks after the pandemic, more so than movie theaters (68%) or bars and clubs (67%). Only in-person concerts (79%) and sporting events (74%) are more eagerly awaited.
  • Revenue for the amusement, gambling, and recreation industries increased 16.9% during Q1 from the prior quarter but decreased 11.7% year over year, according to the US Census Bureau.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April that, based on analysis of the latest available data, cleaning once a day is usually enough to minimize the chance of coronavirus transmission in most settings. Amusement parks and arcades are likely to benefit if the guidance results in lower pandemic-related cleaning costs. The CDC did identify one appropriate situation for deep cleaning: an indoor environment where a case of COVID-19 had been confirmed within the past 24 hours.
  • Michael Browning Jr., the co-founder and CEO of Urban Air Adventure Parks, said that his theme parks in states that have reopened after coronavirus-induced shutdowns, like Texas and Florida, are outperforming their pre-COVID levels. “For example, in Texas, we’re [at] 120% of our 2019 numbers, our pre-COVID numbers,” Browning said. He attributed the dramatic increase in part to pent-up demand.
  • Consultant Dennis Speigel estimates that US theme parks, worth $25 billion in 2019, have lost $10 billion since the beginning of the pandemic. The impact, he says, has been larger than that of all economic downturns of the past 20 years combined. Spiegel estimates global losses during the pandemic to be $30 billion.
  • Employment in the amusements, gambling, and recreation industry decreased 1% year over year in April.

June 22, 2021

  • About 72% of franchised auto dealers who responded to the 2021 Cox Automotive Dealership Staffing Study said that finding and hiring suitable employees is proving difficult. Some 65% of those dealers plan on hiring new employees this year, while just 34% plan on sticking with their current staff. Cox’s study also found that 32% of surveyed job seekers indicated that they didn’t believe they have the skills necessary to work at a dealer. Bob Kostkan, senior director at Cox Automotive University, notes that this isn’t often the case.
  • Pandemic-driven changes to the car buying process have made dealerships more productive, according to Automotive expert Karl Brauer. Increased use of e-commerce tools allow consumers to look at more vehicles before they enter the dealership, allowing them to independently gather vehicle option and price information. The tools also allow salespeople to deal with more than one customer at any given moment, and may allow them to have as many as 10 deals in process simultaneously. In an increasing number of cases, purchases can be completed online and the car can be delivered to the customer, further reducing time spent on each sale.
  • GM executives say that purchases through its Shop-Click-Drive online service, which was launched in 2013, have increased during the pandemic by about 40% from pre-COVID levels. About 85% of GM dealers are now using the service.
  • A record 289 dealership transactions occurred during 2020, a 24% year-over-year increase, according to Kerrigan Advisors, a national sell-side advisor to dealerships. That is 47 more transactions than in the previous record year of 2015. “Owners of large dealership groups are choosing to sell their businesses at today’s high valuations rather than accommodate the changes and investments required in terms of electric vehicles and digital retail sales,” Kerrigan Advisors analysts said. “This resilient—and resurgent—auto retail performance of 2020 has increased demand for dealerships and has continued to fuel valuations.”
  • Retail sales for auto dealers decreased 3.7% in value month over month on an adjusted basis in May but increased 42.5% in value year over year on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2021.
  • Several industry analysts expect new auto sales to increase about 6.9% in 2021. The National Automobile Dealers Association expects 2021 sales of 15.5 million. Forecasters at car-shopping web site Edmunds also predicted 2021 sales of 15.5 million. Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive, said that Cox expects 2021 sales of 15.7 million. US new auto sales in 2020 were 14.5 million, down 15% from 2019. It was the fourth-largest annual decline since at least 1980.
  • The average new vehicle transaction price increased 1.2% month over month to $41,263 in May (+$493) and was up 5.4% (+$2,125) year over year. "Last month's average transaction price performance highlights an all-time high in year-over-year growth for the month of May," said Kayla Reynolds, industry intelligence analyst at Cox Automotive.
  • Employment in the auto dealer industry increased 12.4% year over year in May but was down 3.8% from May 2019.

June 24, 2021

  • Analysts expect auto rental firm Hertz to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of June after a bankruptcy court confirmed the company's reorganization plan. Hertz was among the first major corporations to declare bankruptcy in 2020 as infections surged and shut down travel on a global scale for both companies and vacationers.
  • Auto rental companies have resorted to buying used vehicles at auction due to pandemic-related supply chain issues that have slowed new vehicle production. Vehicle production fell 4.6% in the first quarter of 2021, and that’s compared to 2020 when factories had already lost weeks of work when the Covid-19 pandemic caused shutdowns, according to LMC Automotive. The demand is sending used-car costs soaring. The Manheim Index, which measures prices at wholesale auctions, shows that used cars costs were 52% higher year over year in May. Analysts say that, despite the acquisition expenses, the car crunch is a boon for rental companies, which likely will have strong profits because they’ll rent out every car they own at much higher rates than they charged before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
  • A rental car shortage combined with rising demand is driving up rental car prices. Many firms quickly sold large portions of their fleet and canceled upcoming orders at the beginning of the pandemic. Demand dropped as much as 90% in the early weeks, forcing companies like Hertz to file for bankruptcy. Car rental firms are now unprepared for a surge in new bookings as travel rebounds.
  • Rules that allocate about $2.8 billion to airports in federal coronavirus stimulus packages require the airports to use $200 million of the funding to provide rent abatement and relief from minimum annual guarantees to airport concessionaires, including car rental companies.
  • Federal stimulus funding also contains $2 billion in grants for “providers of transportation services” (CERTS program). Bus and ferry companies are specified as eligible under the law, but the Departments of Treasury and Transportation can identify additional providers, such as car rental companies, to qualify for the grants as well.

June 24, 2021

  • Businesses including bars and nightclubs are reopening just as a coronavirus variant that World Health Organization officials said is "faster" and "fitter" than previously identified ones begins spreading in the US. The Delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease, could cause an upsurge in infections, but the levels will vary depending on the rates of vaccination in each area, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. The Delta variant was first identified in India, which experienced a devastating surge in cases and deaths during May.
  • Legislatures in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia have passed bills either extending or making permanent laws that allow alcohol delivery from restaurants, bars and, in some cases, liquor stores. While some of these bills are still awaiting governor signatures at the state level, some cities are also taking unilateral action or asking state houses for legislative action, including New York City. California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin are also among states with legislatures that have been debating similar moves in recent months.
  • Bars and nightclubs that closed during the pandemic will need to proceed carefully when lockdown orders are lifted, as hospitality employers in some jurisdictions must offer certain former employees their jobs back. A new Washington, DC, law, for example, provides eligible non-exempt workers in the hospitality industry who were displaced by COVID-19 the right to be reinstated to their former positions. The law may also apply when there has been a change of ownership. Covered employees can sue their employers for violations of the law on an individual and class basis. Prevailing employees can be awarded back pay, the cost of lost benefits, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. A sunset provision was included in the law that expires on June 30, 2023.
  • Americans shifted their drinking patterns to off-premise consumption during the coronavirus pandemic. “That frequent on-premise drinker is 60% more likely to have purchased more alcohol in the past month through delivery or pick up from a store, 80% more likely to have purchased online from a bar or restaurant, and 55% more likely to have increased their online purchases from a brewery, winery or wine club, or distillery,” said Danelle Kosmal, Nielsen’s vice president of beverage alcohol.

June 24, 2021

  • 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.

June 24, 2021

  • The National Retail Federation (NRF) revised its 2021 total retail sales forecast to $4.44 trillion, up from $4.33 trillion. Sales will grow between 10.5% and 13.5% year over year, the NRF says. The organization expects online shopping to stay above pre-pandemic levels, but to moderate from 2020 levels.
  • The return to in-store shopping as COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and new case number decrease offers some relief to retailers in part because fewer shoppers ask for their money back after making a purchase at the store — 8% compared with 25% for online, according to Forrester Research. In-store customers also tend to do more impulse buying. About 25% of in-store clothing purchases are done on a whim versus 16% online, according to market research firm NPD Group.
  • Teen spending is slowly increasing from a two-decade low, with teenage girls leading the spending recovery, according to Piper Sandler's 41st biannual “Taking Stock with Teens” report. Online fashion brands like Shein and Princess Polly are surging in popularity, along with thrift marketplaces like Depop. The “wallet share” that upper-income female teens devote to apparel hit 29% in April, a high not seen since 2013. That percentage had stagnated at 25%, from the spring of 2017 to the spring of 2019, Piper Sandler said.
  • Many analysts expect a wave of discretionary expenditures on items like clothing when the pandemic wanes. Bloomberg Economics estimates that consumers have amassed about $1.7 trillion in savings since the beginning of the pandemic through January. That’s being bolstered by a new round of stimulus payments. Consumer spending during Q2 and Q3 2021 is likely to be the strongest such period in at least 70 years, according to economists at financial services firm Wells Fargo.
  • Retail sales for clothing stores increased 2.9% in value month over month on an adjusted basis in May and 81.3% in value year over year on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2021. Year over year comparisons may be distorted by the large drop in sales, particularly during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Telecommuting has helped make the athleisure industry one of the most lucrative sectors of the fashion world as companies such as Lululemon, Alo Yoga, and Athleta have risen in popularity. The market for athleisure clothing is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.7% through 2026 and reach a value of $257.1 billion.
  • Clothing store chain American Eagle announced plans to shut between 200 and 250 of its approximately 880 stores in the next two to three years. The closures will mostly be mall-based locations. The company also plans to increase the number of Aerie stores by 50, to about 400, at the end of 2021, and plans to have 500 to 600 Aerie locations in 2023.
  • 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 non-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.
  • Employment in the clothing store industry increased 132% from the pandemic-related low of April 2020 but was down 23.5% from the pre-pandemic month of April 2019.

June 25, 2021

  • More than 2 million people passed through US airport security checkpoints on June 11, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It was the first time since early March 2020 that that level was reached. Checkpoint traffic was 74% of the volume compared to the same day in 2019, but the 2.03 million figure was 1.5 million more travelers than the same day in 2020, according to the TSA.
  • Accommodation industry revenue increased 5.8% in Q1 from the prior quarter but decreased 24.2% year over year.
  • The California legislature passed a bill which requires reopening hospitality companies to offer jobs first to employees who had their jobs at least six months prior to and were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill requires all hospitality companies to inform former employees as to when their jobs or positions will be available after the economic crisis. The bill now advances to Governor Gavin Newsom's office.
  • Advertising and search engine firm Google has introduced a new policy on its travel platform Google Travel in which hotels and travel companies can now appear for free in booking links, and won't have to pay the search engine for the transactions carried out by travelers. Analysts say that the move is intended to boost the tourism industry when the pandemic begins to wane.
  • Employment in the hotels and motels industry increased 30% year over year in April but was down 26.7% compared to the pre-pandemic month of April 2019.

July 6, 2021

  • Businesses including movie theaters are reopening at full capacity without social distancing restrictions just as a coronavirus variant that World Health Organization officials said is "faster" and "fitter" than previously identified ones begins spreading in the US. The Delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease, could cause an upsurge in infections, but the levels will vary depending on the rates of vaccination in each area, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. The Delta variant was first identified in India, which experienced a devastating surge in cases and deaths during May. Theaters that have stopped following some pandemic-related safety practices may need to consider implementing them again. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised all residents in late June to wear masks while they’re in public indoor spaces — even if they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • About 80% of the 2020 movie slate was pushed to 2021 while the remainder were sold to streaming services, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.
  • Movie theaters are reopening around the US but competition for debut films from streaming services and continuing theater capacity limits make the prospect of filling theaters unlikely in the foreseeable future, according to Moody's debt analyst Neil Begley. Begley expects the industry to see more shake-ups as studios consider withholding premium content until more certainty emerges.
  • Pandemic-driven changes in consumer preferences and disagreements between studios and theaters have resulted in lower film availability overall, according to The New York Times. Some traditional studios have started to prioritize streaming, causing resistance from multiplex operators accustomed to having first access to content. Releases have slowed as a result. “It’s going to take some time for things to settle out,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy. Disney CEO Bob Chapek has said that even after the pandemic, the company will release movies in new ways, with some offered to theaters on an exclusive basis, some being offered on a hybrid theater/streaming model, and others made available exclusively (and for no additional fee) on the Disney+ streaming service, which now has nearly 100 million subscribers worldwide.
  • 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.

June 14, 2021

  • Oil and gas producer Royal Dutch Shell is reviewing its holdings in the Permian Basin for a potential sale, according to Reuters news service. The holdings, located mostly in Texas, accounted for around 6% of the company’s total oil and gas output in 2020. The review is expected even as benchmark oil prices increasewith fuel demand rising as the coronavirus pandemic ebbs. Analysts have estimated the value of the holdings to be more than $10 billion.
  • US crude and condensate production hit 12.8 million barrels per day (b/d) in December 2019 and is not expected to reach that level before late 2023, according to business and financial information and analytics firm S&P Global. Production is then expected to slowly grow to a peak of around 14 million b/d by 2030. S&P cites the pandemic-induced reduction in drilling and completion activity, coupled with capital discipline, for the relatively slow rebound.
  • Royal Dutch Shell said that its upstream oil and gas unit will be profitable in Q1 2021. It will be the first profitable quarter for the unit since the coronavirus pandemic began. Most producers suffered heavy losses in the early part of the pandemic, particularly in Q2 2020, as oil demand and prices collapsed. Shell and others recovered in the second half of the year but endured a difficult final quarter as a number of countries reimplemented lockdown restrictions. The company as a whole posted a full-year profit, albeit its lowest in at least two decades, boosted by its retail and trading units.
  • Oil production is rebounding, and analysts expect a slow production increase over the course of 2021 and 2022. Oil prices have rallied in 2021, but more so because of output limits imposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, according to Natural Gas Intelligence.
  • The spot price of West Texas intermediate (WTI) crude was $71.45 per barrel on June 14. 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 daily price of natural gas reached $3.36 per million British thermal units (Btus) on June 14, passing the previous pandemic-era high of $3.35 per million Btus reached on October 26, 2020. The daily price dropped to the lowest level in more than 20 years on June 16, 2020, settling at $1.38 per million British thermal units (Btus), according to Natural Gas Intelligence. The average monthly price for US benchmark natural gas was $1.81 per million Btus during the first six months of 2020, and had reached a low of $1.63 per million Btus in June 2020, the lowest average monthly price, adjusted for inflation, since at least 1989, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
  • Brad Handler, a senior fellow at the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, said that market participants want companies to stay focused on delivering financial returns instead of returning to the debt-fueled growth of recent years. Oil and gas exploration and production companies are preparing to spend less annually in 2021 and 2022 than they did in 2017-19, he added.

June 14, 2021

  • The daily price of natural gas reached $3.36 per million British thermal units (Btus) on June 14, passing the previous pandemic-era high of $3.35 per million Btus reached on October 26, 2020. The daily price dropped to the lowest level in more than 20 years on June 16, 2020, settling at $1.38 per million British thermal units (Btus), according to Natural Gas Intelligence. The average monthly price for US benchmark natural gas was $1.81 per million Btus during the first six months of 2020, and had reached a low of $1.63 per million Btus in June 2020, the lowest average monthly price, adjusted for inflation, since at least 1989, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
  • The spot price of West Texas intermediate (WTI) crude was $71.45 per barrel on June 14. 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.
  • US crude and condensate production hit 12.8 million barrels per day (b/d) in December 2019 and is not expected to reach that level before late 2023, according to business are financial information and analytics firm S&P Global. Production is then expected to slowly grow to a peak of around 14 million b/d by 2030. S&P cites the pandemic-induced reduction in drilling and completion activity, coupled with capital discipline, for the relatively slow rebound.
  • Oilfield support services are still struggling despite a rebound in oil and gas prices, according to financial information and analytics firm S&P Global. The benefits of more expensive oil failed to trickle down to the service sector, owing to producers' capital discipline, efficiencies, and the recent focus on well completions over new wells.
  • Demand for oil and gas support services is likely to increase as the oil industry recovers from demand drops related to the coronavirus pandemic and a price war. Industry experts say that companies including Devon Energy, EOG Resources, and Occidental Petroleum are poised to expand their presence on public lands, including in the Powder River Basin. 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 Biden's plans to curb new drilling. A Devon Energy executive told investors in February that the company was “ready to roll with the punches” and has about 500 drilling permits in hand. That will last the company for years in Wyoming and New Mexico.
  • Brad Handler, a senior fellow at the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, said that market participants want companies to stay focused on delivering financial returns instead of returning to the debt-fueled growth of recent years. Oil and gas exploration and production companies are preparing to spend less annually in 2021 and 2022 than they did in 2017-19, he added.
  • A rule enacted 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.

June 24, 2021

  • Some venues and event promotors have dropped proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test requirements for admission, but rules vary by jurisdiction and facility. Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter, has confirmed that its Upstate New York amphitheaters will not require attendees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Unvaccinated people still have to wear masks, but venues do not have to check anyone’s vaccine status and can otherwise operate like they did before the pandemic. New York state ended most Covid-19 rules in mid-June after hitting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of 70% of adults getting at least one coronavirus shot. Most states had not hit as high a vaccination rate by late June.
  • A survey of 7,163 performers by The Actors Fund found that 76% of respondents lost income and 40% reported reduced food security during the coronavirus pandemic. Some 28% fell behind in rent or mortgage and 20% were forced to change housing. About 10% of respondents had to sell a large asset, such as a house or a car.
  • Many performing arts groups are receiving less public funding due to reduced tourism. San Francisco, CA, anticipated generating $25.9 million during the current fiscal year for the arts via the hotel tax but collected only $3.9 million, as tourism nosedived due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A solution proposed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed would redirect some higher-than-expected property tax revenue, increased federal reimbursements, and savings from lower expenses to the arts.
  • The Save Our Stages Act (SOS), which allotted some $15 billion for independent live music and entertainment venues, does not cover the majority of the industry, according to many experts. This is primarily because the bill denies aid to independent contractors as well as businesses which meet any of the following criteria: they are a publicly traded company; have offices in more than one country; have 500 or more employees; received 10% or more of their funding from the federal government (which now can receive funding if a majority of the bookings are performances); or have offices in more than ten states.
  • SOS funding 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”

June 26, 2021

  • Restaurants that cut staffing levels during the pandemic will need to proceed carefully when lockdown orders are lifted, as employers in some jurisdictions must offer former employees their jobs back. A new Washington, DC, law, for example, provides eligible non-exempt workers in the restaurant  industry who were displaced by COVID-19 the right to be reinstated to their former positions. The law may also apply when there has been a change of ownership. Covered employees can sue their employers for violations of the law on an individual and class basis. Prevailing employees can be awarded back pay, the cost of lost benefits, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. A sunset provision was included in the law that expires on June 30, 2023.
  • About 90,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). That’s less than 14% of the country’s restaurants, and is lower than the 110,000 figure reported by the association in December 2020, when the executive vice president for public affairs, Sean Kennedy, described the industry’s status as “an economic free fall.”
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loans program, which provides restaurants and other small businesses with working capital during the pandemic, raised its cap on loans to $500,000 and extended the term to 24 months. Loans are currently capped at $150,000 and are intended to cover routine expenses over a six-month stretch. Restaurants and other businesses that already qualified for a loan will automatically be upgraded to the more liberal terms, the Small Business Administration SBA said. The SBA hopes to increase the cap up to $2 million, an official told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
  • Large restaurant chains are launching delivery-only brands due to pandemic-driven growth in the sector. Applebee’s is launching Cosmic Wings, a delivery-only brand that specializes in chicken wings and Cheetos-flavored dipping sauce. Uber Eats will deliver the brand from 1,300 Applebee’s kitchens. Denny’s is rolling out two virtual brands — The Burger Den and The Meltdown — in the first half of 2021. Chuck E. Cheese started delivery-only Pasqually’s Pizza and Wings in March 2020. In the last few months, Chili’s launched It’s Just Wings, TGI Fridays launched Conviction Chicken, and Carrabba’s Italian Grill began delivering Tender Shack chicken sandwiches. Uber Eats says that it has more than 10,000 delivery-only restaurants on its platform, up from 3,000 in 2019. More than half of that growth has come from national chains.
  • Both Chipotle and Yum! Brands said that they won't be mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for workers. McDonald's, Restaurant Brands International, Dunkin' Brands, and Papa John's, all of which have a large franchisee presence, have yet to take a public stance on COVID-19 vaccinations for workers or franchisees.
  • 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 increased 1.8% in value month over month on an adjusted basis in May and 25.5% in value year over year on an unadjusted basis during the first five months of 2021.
  • Employment in the restaurant industry increased 68% year over year from the pandemic-related low of April 2020 but was down 8.9% from the pre-pandemic month of April 2019.

June 25, 2021

  • More than 2 million people passed through US airport security checkpoints on June 11, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It was the first time since early March 2020 that that level was reached. Checkpoint traffic was 74% of the volume compared to the same day in 2019, but the 2.03 million figure was 1.5 million more travelers than the same day in 2020, according to the TSA.
  • About 44% of travelers who rarely or sometimes used a travel agent before the pandemic are likely to turn to one in a post-pandemic future, according to a study by Sandals Resorts and the American Society of Travel Advisors released May. That's higher than the 27% of travelers who always or often used such a professional before COVID-19 altered the travel landscape. "We have a number of new clients that are booking with us and part of the reason is that it is so complex today to know where you can travel to, and it changes by the day," said Robert Herman, owner of Riverdale Travel.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that fully vaccinated individuals can travel within the continental US at low risk to themselves, provided they follow specific protocols, including wearing a mask on all forms of public transportation. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last recommended dose of vaccine.
  • Unvaccinated travelers should still get tested 1-3 days before domestic travel and again 3-5 days after travel. They should stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel or 10 days if they don’t get tested at the conclusion of travel. CDC discourages non-essential domestic travel by those who are not fully vaccinated.
  • The Biden administration has said that there are no plans for a national vaccine passport or certificate of vaccination for the entire US, but states and foreign jurisdictions are taking positions on the matter. New York state, for instance, issues Excelsior Passes to residents who have been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19 so they can gain admittance to certain venues and events. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, on the other hand, signed an executive order banning vaccine passports. The European Union is still developing official standards, while Israel requires fully immunized residents to furnish a paper or digital "Green Pass" to access public places like gyms, theaters and hotels. Several companies, trade groups, and non-profits are developing digital passports intended to show proof of coronavirus vaccination and testing status, but public health officials are urging policymakers to resist calls for digital passport systems. It is hoped by many that the passports will boost a variety of industries, including museums, zoos, and parks, by acting as a credential for access to facilities and events.
  • About 40% of all US jobs lost since February 2020 were in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to an analysis of Department of Labor national jobs reports by the US Travel Association. That is triple the number of the next-hardest-hit industry.
  • Employment in the travel arrangement and reservation services industry decreased 6.7% year over year in May.
  • 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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