It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a sector of the economy that has not been affected in some way by the pandemic. Fear of virus spread, business lockdowns, and more individuals staying home have all contributed to industry decline. Consumer facing – brick and mortar retail, restaurants and hospitality as well as air travel, gas stations and vehicle sales have been hit the hardest. Most industrial production remains below pre-Covid levels. But it is not all bad news.
Many companies who could pivot to produce PPE saw increased sales during the initial months of the pandemic. E-commerce sales and digital technology have remained strong sectors due to the same consumer concerns mentioned above. Since businesses began to reopen in April, we have seen pockets of industry rebound faster than others with the likes of increased freight traffic and new housing construction. Manufacturing has seen some areas of growth and restaurants continue to adapt to better serve their customers.
While March, April and May saw severe negative growth, the summer months have produced more positive results, which is a good sign as the economy slowly recovers. As business activity is improving however, consumers remain cautious and concerned.
Certain industries have adapted well to the “new normal”. Industries who had a portion of their business online pre-Covid certainly were able to scale and move more online post-Covid. Companies who had multiple revenue streams and cash liquidity have fared better over the last 6 months and could rebound faster as the economy recovers.
With regards to financing, one focal point remains and that is one size does not fit all. Business financing should always have been tailored to meet the needs of companies but in this environment, it is critical. One stop financing might not be ideal. For example, it may be possible to increase availability on working capital assets and bring in a partner to maximize equipment or real estate financing. Companies need to look to creative solutions across multiple lenders, pulling together various sources to meet their needs.
Lenders need to think differently as well and be more creative if they want to help growing companies address new opportunities. As companies have had to pivot in a new environment, lenders need to do the same.