The UK’s Biggest Business Winners And Losers Of Covid-19

If there is one thing that’s true of the pandemic: businesses will never be the same again. Most of us have gone from sitting knee-to-knee with strangers on packed trains as we commute to warm, virus-friendly offices to staying at home all day. Covid-19 has devastated many businesses in previously in-demand sectors, from hospitality to airport-related services.

But with every disaster comes a new world and new opportunities. While Covid-19 has hit small businesses the hardest, seeing as they’re most likely to operate in sectors most affected by the pandemic, such as accommodation and the arts, some have enjoyed big booms as a result of the pandemic.

IVA Advice has analyzed google search trends data for over 250 UK local business industries and discovered the UK’s biggest business winners and losers of the new Covid world. From SEO and web development to paving and skip hire, the increase in demand for certain businesses exposes our changing needs in a changing world.

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IMAGE: UNSPLASH

Life will never be the same again, but there are growth opportunities, as long as we adapt. Let’s dive right in, and explore why these small companies are the UK’s biggest business winners of the post-pandemic world.

What Are The Uk’s Biggest Business Winners And Losers Of Covid-19?

The UK’s biggest business winners of Covid-19 are SEO companies, timber merchants, skip hire, commercial cleaning, cycle shops, paving, landscapers, web development, and storage. The UK’s biggest business losers of Covid-19 include airport transfers, night clubs, party venues, minibus hire, taxis, function rooms, boarding kennels, cinemas, dry cleaners, and playgroups. We’ll look at each of these businesses in detail, and discuss the reasons for their success or failure in a Covid world.

Biggest Business Winners Of Covid-19

SEO Company

The search term ‘SEO companies’ grew by a whopping 38.1%. With 85,000 retailers launching online during the pandemic and people using search engines almost exclusively to find what they need, it makes sense that businesses want to hire Search Marketing / SEO companies to ensure they’re at the top of Google.

Timber Merchants

As offices closed and furlough schemes started up, the search term ‘timber merchants’ soared by 35.1%. Stuck at home, we were finally forced to confront those DIY projects we’d been putting off forever.

Skip Hire

Some skip companies had a five-day wait during the first Covid-19 lockdown, with many people taking the chance to make home improvements. Searches for skip hire were up 30%.

Commercial Cleaning

The 29.1% rise in commercial cleaning search terms makes total sense, as cleaning services saw a 95% rise in demand due to the risks of Covid-19.

Cycle Shops

With fewer people driving due to the order to stay at home, searches for cycle shops were up by 28.3 percent.

Web Development

Searches for web development were up by 24.8%. With traditional sales tactics dying faster due to Covid-19, the competition to rank highly on Google is massive.

Home And Garden Improvements

The impact of Covid-19 on the home and garden improvement industry has been extraordinary, with a 57% increase in visits to home furnishing websites and apps. With all usual forms of entertainment closed, such as cinemas, restaurants, and clubs, and with many stuck at home without the distraction of work, it makes sense that focus has turned to home improvement: for a sense of distraction and productivity, no doubt. IVA Advice has analyzed several home and garden improvement small business industries, and we’ll look at each in turn.

Demand for garage doors is still unusually high due to the pandemic, with a ten-week wait for some doors at companies. Searches were up 28.1%. Guttering boomed by 24.8%, seeing as it’s easy to notice problems with your roof when you’re stuck under it all day. Similarly, searches for roofing were up 21.9%. The paving also experienced a big boom, with searches up 26.5%.

Gardening searches rose 23.8 percent, as sales of gardening products were up 34%, 17%, and 19% in June, July, and August in UK garden centers. Some people destroyed their gardens in an attempt to improve them. Others chose the ‘wiser?’ option of hiring professionals, with searches for landscapers rising 25.5%. Following the gardening boom, search terms for fencing were up 22.8%

Tutoring

With the sudden call to homeschool, we became our kids’ teachers overnight. Unsurprisingly, some of us turned to the professionals, either online or in-person when allowed. Search terms for ‘tutoring’ were up 24.6%.

Takeaway

If we couldn’t eat at our favorite places, the food came to us, with searches for takeaways up 21.9 percent. Many local takeaways partnered up with the Takeaway website Just Eat, whose sales surged 50% in the first quarter, and 43% in the third quarter.

Web Design

Again, you can’t survive in a mostly online world without an excellent website. Searches for web design were up 21.6 percent. Like other sectors, big tech has boomed during a pandemic, suggesting that the demand for web design is here to stay.

Storage

Storage saw a fascinating boom, with search terms up 21.5%. Self-storage is actually an overlooked way to invest, considering how recession resistant it is as an industry. With the unfortunate effect of Covid-19 on the nation’s finances, people will need to downsize to save money. Sadly, many more of the population will have been made homeless, leading to rising demand for storage.

As Scott Meyers writes for Forbes, Storage is one of those industries which is related to the “transition and trauma” business, and people’s difficult life events. The pandemic has propelled many people into traumatic and difficult situations, including losing their homes, so it is no surprise that storage has experienced a boom.

Furniture

The rise in people working, studying, socializing, and worshiping from home due to the pandemic has led to a greater emphasis on home and comfort. Searches for furniture rose 21.4%, with more people spending on home office furniture, for example.

Covid-19 consumers, spending almost all their time in the same space (58% of the world’s population was forced to stay at home), are increasingly focused on improving their living spaces, which is great news for furniture manufacturers.

However the pandemic pans out, and whenever vaccines become readily available, few would deny that the trend in home working is here to stay,. This might suggest that the focus on home improvements will continue, as people seek to be productive and comfortable in one space.

Flooring

After a horrible year for retail, flooring services say that sales are up 57%, and 65% have finished 2020 much better than they expected. The rise in flooring search terms by 19.6% reflects this. A significant trend that emerged over lockdown, with more people spending time at home, was the rising interest in maintenance and repair, which boosted the demand for different types of flooring.

Furniture Repair

Furniture repair is an interesting business to analyze during a traumatic economic time. Given the turbulent economic climate, more customers are deciding to repair high-end furniture rather than replace it, as this is more cost-effective. Searches for furniture repair were up by 19.3%.

Biggest Business Losers Of Covid-19

Airport Transfer

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the air transport sector, and of course the rest of the aviation industry. Due to the dramatic drop in passengers traveling by air because of national lockdowns, many jobs are at stake in the aviation industry. The shocking 48.2% decline in the search phrase ‘airport transfer’ reflects the economic devastation that the entire aviation industry faces.

As air transport, and its related industries (air transfer, for example) plays a key role in the economy, from the trade of goods and the operations of global supply chains to the movement of people around the world for work, hits to the aviation industry negatively impact not just the UK economy, but the world economy.

Night Clubs

At this point, even those of us who hate clubbing probably wish they could down six shots and dance the night away with a hundred sweaty strangers. Unfortunately, with much of the UK currently unable to mix outside their households, night clubs’ closure looks set to stay.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), an organization representing over 100-night clubs in Britain, warned that without financial support, 4 in 5 venues will close by Christmas 2020. Two thirds (61%) of business in the night-time economy started making redundancies after news of a second lockdown broke in November.

This accounts for the huge decrease in search volume for ‘night clubs’ (down 47.3%), as people are forced to find other ways of entertaining themselves. Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA, urges government support for night clubs, saying that they have made “a huge contribution to our globally renowned culture sector”.

Party Venues And Function Rooms

Party venues (down 46.5% in search terms) and function rooms (down 39.9%) are part of the events industry, which Covid-19 has utterly decimated. Even with the ‘best’ group meeting allowances during the summer of 2020, when up to thirty people could meet outdoors, a survey on social distancing in businesses in the events sector showed that 46% of respondents would have to halve the capacity of their venues.

This meant that 59% of venues would not break even, and over 80% would lose more than half of their monthly turnover. The events industry is an industry that relies on groups of people meeting and interacting in a live environment, and, pre-pandemic, none of us could have imagined a situation in which this couldn’t take place in the UK.

Vehicle Hire

The vehicle hire sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. People no longer traveling for work and communicating with their colleagues via Zoom call at home, means that demand for hired vehicles has dropped hugely.

Vehicle hire for leisure purposes, for example, for school trips or sightseeing tours, is in the same situation, given the restrictions that the whole country faces. Search terms for ‘coach hire’ plummeted by 28.8 %, while minibus hire was down 44.8% and mini cabs 32.6%. Wedding cars were down 29.6 %.

Taxis

The small talk you make in a taxi, usually involves asking the driver about their job: “has it been busy today?”. But since the Covid-19, that question has exposed the struggles of the taxi industry during the pandemic. While taxi drivers have faced a significant reduction in demand for their services, overheads have continued.

Search terms for ‘taxis’ were down 40.1%. Financial help for taxi private hire vehicle operators and taxi intermediaries may include: the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme, and a coronavirus Bounce Back loan.

Bridal And Prom Dress Shops

Bridal shops and shops selling prom dresses should have been enjoying their busy season in summer 2020. However, with events like end-of-year school proms being canceled and people canceling or postponing weddings due to constantly shifting Covid restrictions, most bridal and prom dress shops are facing their worst year ever. Search terms for prom dresses have dropped by 38.7%, and bridal shops have dropped 26.1%.

Coronavirus has almost destroyed the wedding industry (which usually contributes £14.7bn to the UK economy). with many of its 400,000 workers saying that an entire year of work has been wiped out.

The reason that our wedding industry, which has lost over £8 billion of revenue due to ongoing restrictions, usually contributes so much money to the country is partly because we’ve developed a culture of ‘dream’ weddings, where even the smallest and cheapest options are costly.

A 15-person wedding (in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions), is, according to wedding experts, not what most engaged couples want and plan for, and do not generate enough income for any supplier business (like wedding dress shops) to be profitable.

Swimming Lessons

Most of us have not been swimming since Coronavirus restrictions were issued in March, and the swimming industry is facing huge losses. Search terms for swimming lessons were down 36.3%. More than 2,000 swim schools, many of them small businesses, have been closed due to the financial impact of Covid-19.

While swimming pools are generally allowed to stay open from Tier 3 down, the constantly changing restrictions and the imposition of Tier 4 for many parts of the UK seriously affect the provision of swimming lessons.

Boarding Kennels

It goes without saying that if you can’t go on holiday, your dogs can’t either. The news frequently covers the impact of Covid-19 on the holiday and travel industry, but we almost always forget the essential associated industry of boarding kennels and other pet accommodation services.

Searches for boarding kennels were down 36%, as millions of holidaymakers have been forced to cancel. 40% of these travellers would have been using boarding kennels and catteries across the country, which means a huge loss in business.

Cinemas

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on the film industry in 2020, and the global box office has dropped by billions of dollars. UK cinemas are set for the worst year since 1996, with revenue down almost £900 million due to the impact of Covid-19. Searches for cinemas are down by 33.8%, and cinema owners have been deprived of months of advertising revenues, halving the amount they had in 2019.

Dry Cleaners

Many small business dry cleaners and laundrettes are struggling as people are more worried about mixing due to Covid-19. Searches for dry cleaners were down 33.7%, and some report a 90% reduction in their elderly customers, and many will have to close if they can’t get the business to cover their bills. Derek Read of Swift Laundrette in Birmingham says that he has seen his dry cleaning turnover drop to “almost zero” and is unsure whether many in the industry will survive.

Caterers And Banqueting

Businesses in the hospitality and catering sector were among the first to be closed as lockdown came into force in the UK. For small businesses in the catering and banqueting industry, for example, small food and drink suppliers, one client (a hotel or restaurant, for example), may provide the majority of their income, and widespread financial insecurity due to Covid-19 may lead to them losing their main source of income. Search terms for caterers were down 30.8 percent, and searches for banqueting fell to 26.5%.

Shoe Repairs

The effect of Coronavirus on footwear and leather goods repair in the UK has been devastating, given that shoe repair shops are not generally considered essential shops. Although non-essential shops were allowed to open on the 15th of June, they have been closed several times due to newly imposed lockdowns or tier changes, which affects footwear repair shops’ financial health. Search terms for shoe repairs were down 30.4%.

Playgroups

The closures of playgroups and childcare providers during the Covid-19 lockdowns have serious consequences both for the parents who rely on childcare to work and contribute to the economy and to childcare providers who were already struggling to go into the crisis.

The institute for fiscal studies reports: “We find, unsurprisingly, that lockdown is likely to have damaged the financial health of many childcare providers, even after accounting for major government support programs.

Assuming that providers were not able to take in any income from parent fees, we estimate that a quarter of private-sector nurseries might have run a significant deficit during the lockdown (with at least £5 of costs for every £4 of income)”. Searches for playgroups were down 27.5%.

Tailors

The impact of Covid-19 on the people who make and repair our clothes (tailors) is extreme. Making, repairing, or altering clothes is a bespoke service and often one that small businesses perform, given that we buy most of our clothes cheaply and ready-made. Search terms for tailors were down 25.1%.

Now that we’ve explored the UK’s most prominent business and losers of Covid-19, we hope you’ve gained more substantial insight into the prospects for these different small business industries. No matter what happens in the future, we can’t ignore the fact that life as we know it may never return, so it might be time to start rethinking our business plans or investments.

If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.

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