Businesses Thriving in the Era of COVID-19 (Besides Zoom)

Again, the combination of businesses prospering in the era of COVID-19 is highly telling. It reflects America’s very own way of coping with loss, tragedy, confusion and doubt. Yes, this is how we are coping with the pandemic in America: by eating more pizza and drinking more alcohol, but also by pursuing hobbies that we’ve generally had little time to pick up and sustain: art, quality time with loved ones, gardening and exercise.

By Tamim Alhourani

We are living in unprecedented times. In turn, many businesses – small and big – are turning to unprecedented measures in an effort to cope with what seems to be ever-increasing uncertainty. To most companies and their workforces, the spread of COVID-19 has been nothing short of detrimental. Unemployment is at an all-time high. The fall in consumption is prompting smaller workforces, shorter work days and most notably: work from home. However, not all businesses fall under that category, for some are not only shining through it all, but they are thriving. Although the number of booming businesses remains low, the nature of said businesses can be very telling. With strict social distancing measures put in place across the nation and beyond, restaurants have been forced to shut down in-house dining services. Some even chose to shut down completely. While most restaurants were hit hard financially, others are enjoying skyrocketing demand and record profits. Think food people normally choose to take out, or have delivered to their homes, like pizza. As multinational corporations laid off thousands of workers, pizza chains raced to expand their workforces. This comes as no surprise-people eat a lot of pizza. Now they’re spending much more time at home, so they’re eating more of it. At the height of the pandemic in late March, Papa John’s announced that it will add about 20,000 new workers to keep up with increased demand on delivered pizza. Pizza Hut said it will be adding 30,000 individuals to its workforce. At one point, Dominos said it was looking to hire 1,000 new workers in under 100 stores in and around Chicago.  

Deemed essential businesses in most states, liquor stores are no exception. In certain parts of New Jersey, one liquor company noted a staggering 300% increase in pickup and delivery orders, with over a 60% increase in sales. Categorizing liquor and spirit stores as nonessential businesses would have resulted in individuals flocking to neighboring states in search for booze, which would only facilitate bigger outbreaks. This was the case in Pennsylvania, where many residents traveled to neighboring states (such as New York and Ohio) in spite of extensive stay-at-home orders.

Besides pizza, liquor, (and Zoom), establishments that are conducting business as usual are leisurely in nature. In other words, people are doing things they previously had little or no time to do in the past. Landscaping and gardening businesses are flourishing. Board game manufacturers and retailers are experiencing exceptional demand as families shelter in place. Arts and crafts supplies are flying off of Walmart shelves. Coffee and tea subscription-based firms are struggling to keep up with the sudden uptick in orders.

Given that fitness centers across the US remain closed throughout the pandemic, many are resorting to home-installed equipment. Thanks to spiking innovation among fitness startups, such as Ergatta and Fight Camp, exercisers all over the country are making use of fitness machines that come complete with access to machine-specific live and/or recorded videos.  

Again, the combination of businesses prospering in the era of COVID-19 is highly telling. It reflects America’s very own way of coping with loss, tragedy, confusion and doubt. Yes, this is how we are coping with the pandemic in America: by eating more pizza and drinking more alcohol, but also by pursuing hobbies that we’ve generally had little time to pick up and sustain: art, quality time with loved ones, gardening and exercise. The numbers and facts don’t reveal anything new. Rather, they solidify the need to reassess our old, somewhat voracious ways of responding to tragedy. They also emphasize the need for a more balanced American life, where day-to-day life is more inclusive of personal experiences, and greater self-awareness. Needless to say, as a society, we are dealing with COVID-19 in true American fashion.

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