How are key business sectors reacting to the current crisis?

Recent weeks have presented challenges to business on a scale that has never been experienced before. How are businesses reacting?

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Recent weeks have presented challenges to business on a scale that has never been experienced before. There has been no shortage of headlines predicting commercial disaster on a massive scale, but history has shown that the most agile businesses can turn turbulent times to their advantage. Here, we take a look at businesses across three core categories that have been most heavily affected, whether for better or worse.

Retail

Throughout the world’s biggest cities, major shopping areas from Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv to Fifth Avenue in New York or London’s Oxford Street have taken on the appearance of a movie set from some post-apocalyptic disaster film. With enforced closures for all stores selling non-essential items, you might reasonably assume this is a tough time to be in retail.

However, that’s not entirely the case. For sure, some of the traditional department stores like UK-based chain Debenhams are in major trouble, but take a step back and you can see this has only emphasized an existing malaise. Like British Home Stores and House of Fraser before it, this is a retailer that has struggled to adapt to 21st century shopping habits. These extreme times have brought the matter home to roost.

Retailers that embrace ecommerce, on the other hand, have seen a smaller dip in sales. Indeed, the likes of Amazon even saw a slight increase, as home-based shoppers browsed the virtual shelves. However, this has come at a different type of cost, with accusations that the ecommerce giant is putting profits above employee safety denting the brand’s reputation.

Leisure

Many people have more leisure time on their hands than ever at present. However, restrictions mean they are limited as to what they can do. Again, agility is paying dividends here.

For example, Las Vegas, the leisure capital of the world, was one of the first places in the US to close its doors. This presented an immediate opportunity for online poker platforms to attract new members among those bored, stuck-at-home gamers. Indeed, some major tournaments shifted completely into cyberspace, for example the Irish Poker Open, which was originally scheduled to take place at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. The international brands like World Series have also launched a number of all-new online tournaments, aimed at players of all abilities from the pros playing for multi million dollar pots to first-timers just in it for fun.

ar pattern has been seen in the sports sector. Practically every major tournament or league has been either postponed or cancelled. However, sports like football, Formula 1 and even horse racing have jumped feet first into the online arena, setting up virtual versions of everything from the Bahrain Grand Prix to the Grand National.

Finance

The gloomy predictions that we are heading for the biggest global recession in living memory spells bad news for banks and financial institutions. Individuals and businesses are struggling to repay loans, and there is likely to be scant appetite for financial products over the coming months.

Even here, however, there are opportunities to be seized. Banking is highly relationship-based, and this is a moment when they can generate goodwill. Many of the major institutions such as Santander, RBS and Barclays have been doing just that, offering emergency assistance to personal and business customers where needed. This has included payment holidays, overdraft facilities and the waiving of charges for late payments. Those who offer flexibility could also see a demand spike for small and medium-sized loans.



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