7 Industries Impacted by COVID-19 & How The Outbreak Is Disrupting Our Economy
Officially renamed COVID-19, the global novel coronavirus outbreak cases in Singapore are increasing every day. The DORSCON level is now orange, which means it’s considered quite “severe” and “spreads easily”. Orange is the second highest level of severity, so naturally, Singaporeans are being extra
But while staying home and eating in reduces our chances of contact with possibly infected people, what does this mean for our economy? Unsurprisingly, certain industries like travel and events are hit pretty badly, while others like pharmaceuticals are booming.
Here’s a look at 7 industries that are affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Pharmaceutical — more sales of hygiene products, supplements and etc
Let’s start with the good news. As you probably already realised, there have recently been snaking queues at local pharmacies like Watsons, Guardian and Unity. People are stocking up not just on surgical masks (which are pretty much out of stock everywhere), but also anything and everything that has “anti-bacterial” on its label. Think hand sanitisers, surface disinfectants and even body wash. I expect sales for these pharmacies are soaring.
But beyond that, the actual drug companies are probably doing very well too. Specifically those manufacturing and selling immunity-boosting vitamins and supplements. Not to mention, flu medication — normally, most people just stay home and sleep off their coughs and colds. However, now that people are worried of a more serious infection, more people are consulting doctors. That means more medication dispensed and sold.
E-commerce — surge in online orders
I’m guilty of contributing to this one: I recently bought a ton of stuff (from Watsons, no less), but did via their online store instead of heading down to the physical shop.
There’s probably negligible impact from me because I’ve online-shopped for everything since forever, but during this outbreak, it seems even the boomers are turning to e-commerce. I know of older folks who got over their technophobia in a day and are now ordering groceries from Amazon Prime (“Eh, got 2-hour delivery leh!”).
E-retailers like RedMart, Lazada, Qoo10 and more are probably laughing their way to the banks right now. Food delivery services are also benefitting from this, as more people order meals to stay home.
Travel — cancelled trips affect airlines, hotels and etc
… Those are right about the only industries that are booming for now. The next most obviously hit industry is travel.
People all over the world are cancelling their travel plans, and not just to China but everywhere in the world. My guess is that it’s less about the destination country, and more about the airport and being around an international crowd.
You may be going the Europe or somewhere that’s mostly unaffected, but you don’t know where your fellow passengers are from or where they’ve been recently.
It’s also not just the airlines that are hit — it’s the hotels and travel-related attractions too. Hong Kong Disneyland actually shut their doors as early as 26 Jan 2020 to guard against the outbreak.
Events — cancellations affect organisers, photographers, and part-time staff
On a related note, the events industry isn’t looking too peachy either. I’ve read some comments shared in forums about how many events have been cancelled, leaving organisers high and dry.
This is expected as experts have generally agreed that it’s best for us to stay home and minimise contact with big crowds when possible. Heck, I’ve even heard of weddings in February and March being postponed…
But while the main organisers probably still receive some income from cancellation fees and whatnot, the real ones impacted are the related gigs, like the small-time freelancers, photographers, videographers and emcees.
Grab and Taxi drivers — people are staying home, nobody is cabbing
People are not just spending their weekends staying in… As it seems, many companies have implemented “remote working”, allowing their staff to work from home. This means that even the usually-crowded CBD is significantly emptier.
With rush hour slowing down, taxi drivers struggle to pick enough passengers daily. It doesn’t help that there was recently a cabbie who caught the COVID-19 virus either.
To tackle this, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced a $77-million Point-to-Point Package to help taxis and private hire businesses. The relief package gives about 40,000 eligible drivers $20 per day per vehicle, for 3 months to tide through these difficult times.
LTA has also decided to waive operator licence fees for 3 months, which total to $1.3 million.
Food & Beverage — business dipping, landlord urged to reduce rent
As you can probably tell by now, generally every industry that involves people going out and having fun is affected. Naturally, the F&B industry is no exception.
In fact, Jewel Changi Airport has offered its tenants 50% off rental for February and March. The Restaurant Association of Singapore commended this move, and urged the rest of the shopping mall landlords to offer rental rebates as well.
I’ve personally witnessed the downturn. I’m usually quite a homebody, but I’ve had to dine out a few times in the past month. I was dreading it because Orchard is usually very crowded, but even on the weekends I went out, it was a ghost town. I went to Itacho Sushi, sit down, and have my food served in 10 minutes.
People are also reporting that Shake Shack at Jewel Changi Airport (which used to be impossible to get a seat at) is empty now. If you have the balls to dine at the airport — which has high international traffic — now is the best time.
Retail — same as F&B, but worse
If people aren’t even eating out, they sure as hell aren’t shopping. As it is, retail is suffering from the rise of the e-commerce industry. You can read about it in this article: Retail Apocalypse in Singapore — 7 Popular Brands That Went Bust or Closed Down
I’ve heard (through the grapevine) that many retailers are actually cutting short work hours and encouraging frontline staff to take unpaid leave. Again, this is unsurprising, especially since a lot of our retail industry (especially the luxury brands) depend on the Chinese dollar.
Do you know of any other businesses that could be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak? Tell us in the comments below.