The current COVID-19 pandemic has dominated 2020 so far, and at present there is no real end in sight. Lockdown restrictions are beginning to be eased across most of the world, but no-one can say for sure whether they will have to be re-evaluated or if there will be a second wave. Almost everyone has been affected in some way, be that medically, socially, professionally, financially or in myriad other ways.
Effects on Business
The financial crisis is beginning to lift in line with easing of lockdown, with many businesses being able to open their doors once more after having no choice but to close temporarily. Conversely, some businesses may start to see a decrease in popularity as people start to return to some semblance of normal. Retailers of essentials have seen increased sales during lockdown, while many providers of at-home entertainment such as online casinos and premium movie channels have seen customer levels spike. As people begin to leave their homes and return to the workplace, consumerism should begin to spread out once more across a wider range of goods and services.
With many thousands asked to work or educate their children from home for several months at a time, our reliance on screens and technology as a population has increased hugely. Many parents now value screen time for their children in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks previously. Employers and employees are becoming increasingly reliant on communication via online media, and people are connecting over social networks more than ever. It seems unlikely that we as a whole will suddenly shift back away from technology even as we have more opportunities to meet people face to face.
One of the industries most impacted by the pandemic has been the transport sector. With low levels of commuters and strong restrictions on unnecessary travel in place for several months in most countries, the transport sector all but closed down. One positive result of this was a rapid decrease in global carbon emissions which dropped around 17% at the peak of lockdown measures. While they will undoubtedly begin to rise again, other factors may help reduce emissions in the transport sector. Businesses may keep certain staff on home working to reduce office space requirements. Flights may become prohibitively expensive, at least temporarily, as many air carriers will not survive the crisis.
Drastic changes are causing many to forget about returning to normal and consider a new, future normality.The banking crisis was followed by a fossil fuel frenzy in an attempt to re-start the global economy – we could see a repeat of that, or we could see a transition to a greener economy. Stores that have relied solely on online income for months may choose never to re-open stores, thereby altering the British high street irredeemably. With the virus setting the timeline, nobody knows what the outcome will ultimately be.