For Some Businesses, COVID-19 Provides an Opportunity

Social distancing has changed the way people go about their daily lives, with a corresponding impact in how people shop and what goods are in demand. While many businesses around the country are seeing massive revenue decreases, businesses that provide goods and services that that naturally conform to social distancing are seeing increased business.

Cleaning services are the most obvious example of a high-demand business. Essential business ranging from medical facilities to commercial retail buildings face increased sanitation requirements. “We’ve never experienced anything like this before in our lives and especially not in our business,” Crystal Hughey, co-owner of Corporate Cleaning told Columbus Business First. “A lot of people are counting on us being smart and keeping them safe.” As states begin to reopen and business begin to once again serve customers, cleaning services will be in high in demand.

Nationwide stay-at-home orders have benefited other industries as well. Any business offering delivery has seen a spike in demand. Madeline Sandlin, director of business development for GrubSouth, told Alabama based WAFF 48 News that the company recently hired 30 new drivers to serve new restaurants participating in the company’s delivery network – and GrubSouth is looking to hire even more to meet increased demand.

Meanwhile, grocery stores are having trouble keeping shelves stocked. The CEO of Stew Leonard’s, a grocery chain with seven supermarkets in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, told Fox News recently that its goods had been flying off the shelves. Popular products include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, pizza, and chicken.

With limited supply unable to keep up with demand, grocery stores have begun implementing creative solutions. In an interview with ABC News, Greg Ferrara, president of the National Grocers Association, explained how some stores are working together to meet demand. He noted that “independent grocers are helping larger chains meet demand during this time and that grocery stores are being restocked at unprecedented speeds.”

More time at home appears to be (unsurprisingly) benefiting liquor in states where liquor stores are considered essential. Liquor store owners are reporting sales similar to the holidays. There are other reasons that liquor is seeing a bump, at least according to JD Phelps, the store manager of Vintage Grape Wines & Spirits in New York. “Each time the president speaks, it helps us tremendously,” he said. “We got really busy after his Thursday speech.” Additionally, hand sanitizer shortages have led some distilleries to switch to producing it, subsequently selling and donating it to local organizations. What’s more, people are now buying liquor to make hand sanitizer at home, although experts say doing so is ineffective, since the alcohol content in hand sanitizer is much higher than in store-bought liquor.

To the delight of every parent, outdoor entertainment products, like toys and games, can still be purchased online. Trampolines, bounce houses, and basketball hoops are just a few outdoor toys that have been popular for consumers, and for good reason. “I’m hoping I can sit outside at my outside table and do work and that will somehow eat up an hour,” Tara Higgins, a New Jersey parent of three told USA Today. “They’ll have fun, and my biggest thing is they will get their energy out.”

But if kids playing outside wasn’t a far enough throwback, drive-in theatres are also making a comeback. Several of the classic theaters, like Atlanta’s Starlight Drive-in, are beginning to re-open. Others are asking their governors for permission to re-open soon. “We can add whatever requirements to give communities much needed escape at this time,” said John Vincent, president of the United Drive-in Theater Association. “We are lobbying governors to be one of the first places to reopen as some states start reopening their economies. We just look forward to the whole world returning to normalcy and are proud to be providing a small piece of that.”

Normalcy may be far from returning and concerns about supply chains could be an issue for consumers moving forward, but embracing the abnormal could help consumers in the coming months.

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