There will be exceptions of course and some type of businesses may see a spurt, but in all probability, majority of businesses stand to see a tough time. While apparel, considered a non-essential, has taken a blow that will take time to recover, Pharma and FMGC are essential sectors and will continue to see strong growth.
Another industry that has seen substantial growth is IT and the reasons are very clear…every company, and now even banks that earlier had data privacy issues would like to take their business on to the cloud to ease work from home (WFH)!
New normal, no normal, not normal, never normal and now abnormal will continue to haunt us, making us continue with WFH for a much longer time. Quite a few companies have already declared extension of WFH to July/August 2021. The reality is that to survive, all we need is food and place to live and work or continued education.
What I would miss most is not having a robust medical care system… maybe that’s an opportunity where the empowered e-clinicians will emerge to provide the best patient care while improving patient safety, at a reduced cost.
The significance of a robust medical care system cannot be undermined as a fresh and more seemingly dangerous wave of the pandemic has taken the Western world by storm, just when we thought the virus would be tamed with the coming of the vaccine!
Countries are again restoring to lockdowns dampening the holiday mood and bringing in fear of a repeat of circumstances and order cancellations that the industry saw in the first half of the year. And in all honesty the fear is not misplaced, as the industry has already started to report disruption in the supply chain of retailers and brands in Europe.
Latest reports from the UK suggest that the retailers/brands in the country, of what is being termed as non-essential retail, could lose GBP 2 billion per week, for the third time in 2020 with the fresh lockdown which comes barely 2 weeks after the last national lockdown.
In the meanwhile, holiday lockdowns have been imposed across Europe to curtail gatherings. All of our major markets are impacted. Germany is in lockdown till 10 January, France will see restriction till 20 January; even Italy, Belgium, Spain and the Scandinavian countries are all under varying degrees of lockdown.
In the US, orders regarding restrictions are being imposed and vary by state, county and even city. These restrictions are being ramped up as cases of COVID-19 surge nationwide, in what is being termed as a bigger and deadlier wave than the initial one in March-April.
Indian exporters have reported major setbacks and that too at a time when factories were looking to rebuild their operations after months of downturn. NGOs working on the ground estimate that the impact of the pandemic crisis on jobs and incomes has been huge, with nearly 400 million informal workers in India finding themselves in poverty. Even if we assume that the NGOs are exaggerating, the blow to employment cannot be undermined.
In Bangladesh exporters have reported that for the next 4 months, orders placed by their regular buyer base are 30 per cent lower than last year in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 lockdowns. With reduced incoming of revenue, wage payments are getting delayed and number of factories facing worker unrest and protest has increased over the last few weeks.
We had all hoped that the holiday season would ring in some cheer and the new year would signal a new beginning of a post COVID-19 era…but now it seems that the dream is still a dream, the reality being one of uncertainty and fear!