The Current COVID-19 Economy

June 11, 2020

Everywhere we look articles mention an impending “new normal,” and through our masks we respond that we are braced for one. In this economy, there are many sides to the COVID-19 story. For many, 2020 was a year worth waiting for; school, big travel plans, attractive stocks, mergers, tech innovations; you name it. However, all the anticipation for a great year came to a screeching halt, and these past few months have not been easy on anyone.

Due to financial strain, the average American has experienced cutbacks in spending, leisurely activities, and socialization. Once the world begins to establish its new normal, the economy is expected to slowly creep into a new type of luster. Although the pandemic has thrown the economy off course, small businesses, stocks and technology are using these times as a way to brainstorm new innovations and remain optimistic.

Small Businesses

Small businesses that do not fall under the “essential” category have experienced a unique type of hit during the COVID crisis. Many retailers maintained the ability to sell online, which did not require those businesses to create any model changes. However, with the economy coming to a halt, consumers are generating less earnings than usual. Boutique retailers supply a mixture of high-end, bespoke, or specialty lines. Without customers or events, funding is sure to see an unprecedented dip. Mom-and-pop shops are not usually household names, which often put them at the backburner of consumer’s minds during uncertainty. What seems to be swept under the rug is the fact small business operation is a key component to the economy bouncing back, as they make up 40% of total business revenue.

Restaurants supply takeout or delivery, but again with consumers earning less, they have less to splurge on dining experiences. Even though restaurants are still operating and serving, alcohol sales always add to restaurants revenue. Seeing as curbside doesn’t also mean bar-side, restaurants are sure to experience a dip, as well.

When people aren’t earning, they aren’t spending. As unfortunate as this is, it could lead to small businesses functioning higher through online services, orders and deliveries. As social as humans are, survival comes as a higher priority. Events and gatherings inspire spending, and until larger gatherings trend again, goods may sit on the shelves for an unpredictable amount of time.

In part of these occurrences, workers around the globe are reallocating their time as well as their efforts to lock in a more secure future. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we have savings accounts and assets for a reason. 

Stocks

To say stocks are struggling right now is an understatement. The United States implemented a stimulus package over a month ago, and Japan and the European Union are sitting on their own stimulus packages. Investor confidence is at a new low, however, their market holdings are at an all-time high. Compared to 2009’s $2.5 trillion in market holdings, 2020 is looking at around $3.2 trillion. As of May 20th, money market assets are at $4.8T, which is an all-time high for institutions and retails. Which instils an optimism easily forgotten by the average broker. 

Money Market Funds

The month of May launched with the S&P 500, Russell 2000 and Nasdaq 100 down roughly 15%, 29%, and 4%. The Russell 2000 is in accordance with small business numbers, and the deterioration is unavoidable. On the inverse, through Nasdaq 100 we see tech companies are faring just fine. Small business breaks a real sweat, but tech doesn’t need as much footwork. Ergo, the tech industry has already hit the ground running through this pandemic, and it’s going to gain more traction as the world reopens. Innovation is regularly snatched up and utilized to ensure business runs as quickly and efficiently as possible. In addition, for all the gamers out there, enhancements in experience have been on the up rise as well. 

Goods and Entertainment  

These past few months have roped the world into an entirely new “work from home” culture. The average worker is commuting less, taking a look around their living space, and making improvements. The words “improvement” and “self-care” have become both marketing tools and triggers simultaneously. The “self-care” industry is, for lack of a better synonym, booming.

Social media has been flooded with posts and promotions regarding skin care, fitness, nutrition trends, and home improvement, allowing marketing messages to touch more consumers throughout the day.

Consumers are easily bored by nature and are always reaching for something new to occupy their minds. The film industry is at an unnatural standstill but is absolutely anxious to return to work. Pre-production practices and deal making is still in full swing, however physical production and animation studio procedures are facing new restrictions. When physical production is available again, there’s no doubt the leading streaming services will be overwhelmed with new material by 2021. However, for now, entertainment circulates through YouTube channels, Instagram Live, Facebook Live and good old-fashioned news outlets as filming can be done from home by the show hosts, celebrities and influencers.

Tech’s “Hands-Off” Evolution

Internet technology has already experienced shifts in previous years due to digitization. Mediator software and video conferencing applications such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc., have risen in popularity simply to enhance convenience. These next few months, maybe even years, might prove further digitization due to sanitary reasons. Meetings would be quicker and easier to maintain if the majority were moved to virtual modes. When working from our private phones, tablets, or computers, direct human contact is unnecessary, thus creating a cleaner work environment. 

Small business owners are also using technological innovation for product launches, promotions, webinars, increased online presence, and even seamless check outs. The platforms that business owners use today, like Shopify, Woo Commerce, Square Space are designed to be intuitive and extremely user friendly, making it easier than ever to buy and brand products as well as communicate with consumers and audiences.

As communication and transactions transition to online interaction, the medium platforms will experience higher security enforcement to combat hackers. Moving everything online is risky business since data can be lost or stolen by a few carefully crafted codes. Consumer’s minds will need to be at ease by implementing higher online security when maintaining their assets. 

Extra Planning is the New Normal

Any consumer or worker has been posed with a blanket question of, “What if?” So far, 2020 has been a year of issues which require solutions. Now owners, workers, and individuals are on a constant hunt for solutions. Watching devastation and a plummeting market has left people afraid for their future, but even in fear and frustration they are fighting for security while remaining hopeful.


Resources:

Market Watch: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/stock-winners-and-losers-in-the-post-covid-19-work-from-home-world-2020-04-24

 

Barron’s: https://www.barrons.com/articles/stocks-in-a-stalemate-as-s-p-500-remains-stuck-at-3000-51590598725?mod=hp_LEAD_1

 

Barron’s: https://www.barrons.com/articles/americas-small-businesses-are-sputtering-why-that-matters-for-the-economy-51590141602