The unmet needs of a home-bound population offer new economic opportunities and sectors like pharma and food are at first-mover advantage.

As the whole world is consumed in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, measures like quarantine, lockdown and civil curfew have been imposed to ensure as many people stay at home as possible. The shutdown has had economic implications, but for some sectors it's proving beneficial. 

Medical suppliers

The demand for certain types of medicines and medical devices have soared in the past few weeks. Ventilator machines, drugs like hydroxychloroquine, test kits, face masks, and disinfectants are in huge demand. 

Many countries, such as Italy and Iran, are in desperate need of medical supplies, in light of their strained healthcare infrastructure due to the pandemic. 

The Italian government recently contacted a domestic ventilator manufacturer, Bologna-based Siare Engineering International Group, asking it to increase its production by a big margin. 

The government dispatched 25 army technicians to offer a helping hand to Siare’s production supervisors to manage the expanded production and help assemble machines. The army also has made its personnel available to the company’s suppliers.

On the other hand, one of the world’s largest makers of ventilators, Swiss-based Hamilton Medical AG, expects to increase production to about 21,000 ventilators this year, up from 15,000 last year by deploying marketing staff to the production line, among other measures. But with many more orders than it can fulfill, the company faces difficult decisions on where to send them.

An employee works on final assembly of VOCSN Multi-Function Ventilators, which integrate five separate medical devices, at Ventec Life Systems, a ventilator manufacturer that has seen a large increase in demand since the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak began, in Bothell, Washington, US, March 18, 2020.
An employee works on final assembly of VOCSN Multi-Function Ventilators, which integrate five separate medical devices, at Ventec Life Systems, a ventilator manufacturer that has seen a large increase in demand since the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak began, in Bothell, Washington, US, March 18, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson / Reuters)

States are still in search of test kits, face masks and some drugs which were believed to be useful during the treatment of Covid-19.

Because of the sudden demand manufacturers and distributors of this sector are working round the clock.

Delivery cargo firms

As several governments have issued stay-home directives, cargo firms are facing enormous pressure as the demand for food and packet delivery services have soared to disproportionate margins. 

Truck drivers and deliverers are busy with highly-demanded materials, like food, medicine and key materials such as toilet paper and cleaning materials.

Since streets in big cities have emptied, they are making capital gains and saving on fuel expenditures. 

To ensure the safety of delivery drivers, companies have issued circulars asking them to leave bags of food or couriers on doorsteps to minimise the possibility of contracting the coronavirus.  

Technomic Inc, a consulting and research firm, found that more than 30 percent of US consumers said they plan to not leave the house or go to restaurants so often, with only 13 percent of them ordering for more deliveries. The report surveyed 1,000 consumers from February 28 to March 2.

Big retail markets

Particularly in the US and in European countries, long queues of people, some stretching for kilometres, have formed in front of supermarkets. 

Big-box retailer Walmart Inc announced it would hire more than 150,000 hourly workers in the United States, citing a jump in shoppers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Walmart also said it plans to pay a special cash bonus of $300 to full-time hourly workers and $150 to part-time associates. The company will accelerate the next scheduled quarterly bonus, it said. 

The 150,000 new workers being hired through to the end of May will work in Walmart’s stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centres, the company said, adding that they would be temporary at first but many would convert to permanent roles over time.

Game and book companies

People from around the world have started social media challenges against their peers which include reading books and playing digital games.

Before the coronavirus people complained about not having enough time to read, however, this situation gives them a great chance and free time to read more.

According to recent reports, online sales of books have increased in many countries or regions.

On the other hands, video games are another opportunity for people in their leisure times.

Online shopping platforms

With shoppers clearing out shelves in fear of quarantines or product shortages, retailers are racing to keep food and hygienic items in stock and have employees on hand for in-store work or delivery.

Many global and small online retailing companies have geared up their workforces as people stay at home and avoid going out for shopping.

Amazon.com Inc on Monday said it would recruit 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States to deal with a surge in online orders, as many consumers have turned to the web to meet their needs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Like Amazon, US supermarket chains Albertsons, Kroger and Raley’s have sought new hires to staff busy sections and fulfill online orders. They are turning to people in the restaurant, travel and entertainment businesses who are suddenly looking for work because of the coronavirus. 

"We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back," Amazon said in a blog post here.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies