Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that the current lockdown will remain in place and that social distancing will stay with us for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, what will the ‘new normal’ look like and which sectors may be hardest hit by the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic?
Restaurants / pubs
Restaurants and Pubs have traditionally played an important part in how British people socialise and lockdown has had a profound effect on this. These establishments have been forced to close with no sign as to when they may be allowed to reopen whereas Off-licenses are on the list of businesses considered essential to keep the nation running.
Notwithstanding the pub closures, alcohol has seen one of the largest increases in demand since lockdown with sales rising by 31.4% in March alone. Closures were not in full effect until midway through the month!
Hand in hand with this is the incredible rise to prominence of video conferencing sites such as Zoom and HouseParty. Zoom has reportedly seen daily downloads rise from 56000 in January 2020 to 2.13million in March. It would seem that people are finding new ways to socialise with online quizzes and ‘virtual pubs’ becoming the new way to stay in touch.
So what will happen when the government do finally allow pubs and restaurants to reopen? Will people revert to the traditional or will virtual meetings offer a cheaper and easier alternative in the post pandemic world?
Hairdressers and Beauty Salons
Hairdressers and Beauty Salons offer a service that relies upon close personal contact which directly conflicts with social distancing measures and were subject to closures under lockdown.
Unable to get a professional haircut, the ‘Buzz cut’ has surged back into fashion amongst many men and many women have settled for home colouring solutions as well as many other do-it-yourself beauty treatments.
It is likely that many shops will be allowed to open again soon, maybe even in the next few weeks, but those that require hands on contact with customers such as hair and beauty salons are the highest risk and it could easily be six months or more before such establishments are allowed to re-open.
This could be disastrous for the 41,000 or so such businesses in the UK and may see many face the serious threat of insolvency, especially as 60 per cent of hairdressers are freelance, so are not eligible for the furlough scheme.
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, gyms and leisure centres were among the first businesses ordered to close. Experts advised the government that gyms are a potential breeding ground for the virus to spread and closing them was one of the key ways to stop the spread of the virus.
Most businesses in this sector have advised their members that they won’t pay while their gym is forced to keep its doors closed but with no income many fitness centres are struggling and are already laying off staff and, in some cases, closing down permanently.
This is further compounded by people purchasing their own personal items of gym equipment to keep fit with many retail sites such as Amazon and eBay reporting a surge in sales. Additionally, there has been a flood of online exercise classes with Joe Wicks to the fore and even the return of Mr Motivator!
Gym owners will be concerned that people, having made this investment in equipment and gotten used to the ‘home workout’ may decide that they don’t need to maintain their membership subscriptions favouring the new normal of their home exercise regimes.
It is unfortunately, therefore, inevitable that there will be many casualties in this particular sector.
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