The Literacy Guild

Opinion: The winners and losers of the pandemic — Some companies thrive, some suffer

COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the health of people around the world, and it has also had an enormously negative impact on the economy. While that is largely true, there are actually a few standout companies that not only managed to survive but even prospered.

Which companies are succeeding and which ones are failing?

One of the most obvious winners of COVID-19 is Zoom. With classes, meetings, and even parties going online, Zoom provides an easy and free way for people to continue their studies, work, and fight off boredom. Despite its security breaches which was reported by Forbes, Market Business Insider discovered that Zoom was expected to have a 200% revenue growth and increase its income fourfold. 

This number is not arbitrary. Zoom has seen an exponential growth since quarantine started. According to BBC, sales reached a colossal $328 million and CNBC reported that it’s revenue grew by 169%.

Zoom meetings have become common occurrences in homes, and it’s features such as greenscreen, waiting rooms, breakout zooms, screen sharing and whiteboard have made it a favorite for schools and companies alike. Additionally, the Sun reports that Zoom has suspended its time limits for schools that apply, which makes it a first choice for educational organizations.

However, Zoom isn’t the only company that has seen growth during quarantine. Amazon, which has consistently dominated the online shopping industry, continues to see profits and income. Unlike Zoom, which was more of an underdog story, Amazon has been a champion from start to (perceived) finish.

Just like Zoom, it’s clear why Amazon is doing well. With its (usually) quick delivery and its various features, Amazon can basically provide all the necessities for quarantine, without customers having to leave the house. 

Amazon now delivers food, streams movies and TV shows, broadcasts music, sells masks, books, clothes, and furniture. However, most of those features are only available through Amazon Prime, where users pay $119 per year. 

Still, Amazon’s users are willing to pay the price, as the company’s profits and income have increased during a time when most companies are facing problems and even declaring bankruptcy.

Forbes reports that Amazon gained $570 billion since the start of the year, putting it in third place, behind Apple and Microsoft with a $1.49 trillion worth. Its stocks have increased by 63% and analysts estimate a $75 billion revenue.

Finally, Clorox, which plays a major role in keeping countless households in America clean, also rose to the top during the pandemic. CNBC reports that the company saw a 15% increase in sales as well as a 31% growth in profits. It’s clear why. A different CNBC article writes that Clorox is seeing a 500% demand increase since the start of COVID-19, and ABC13 found that Clorox is making nearly 1 million wipes per day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cleaning and disinfecting one’s homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. On their website, Clorox cleaners boast a 99.9% germ killing rate, becoming one of the primary choices for families looking for cleaning supplies. 

These three companies are not the only winners of the COVID-19 pandemic. USA Today found that companies like Apple, Costco, and even Domino’s Pizza have all seen an increase in their income and revenue. 

Meanwhile, as these companies bask in the silver lining of the COVID-19 cloud, most are facing inconvenience, challenges, and failures. Big companies like 24 Hour Fitness and Chuck E. Cheese are declaring bankruptcy.

JC Penney declared bankruptcy in May and reported that they will be closing 154 of their stores. Additionally, different firms are now bidding for the company.

One of the main reasons for JC Penney’s failure is the type of customers that usually shop at their stores. JC Penney’s usual shoppers are low to middle-income who are the main targets of the countless layoffs during COVID-19 pandemic. If these customers shop, they will do so at cheaper stores, which means that JC Penney will see much less income than usual.

Another unfortunate company was AMC movie theaters, whose locations closed due to COVID-19. According to Variety, AMC saw a $2.2 billion loss and CNN reports that AMC saw its revenue fall from $1.2 billion to $941.5 million, a 22% drop.

It’s obvious why AMC is facing problems. As a company that relies heavily on in-person attendance, AMC will have many bumps in the road during COVID-19. As streaming services like Netflix and Hulu rise, movie theaters, specifically AMC, will decline.

Finally, Sears, a store that has been ingrained as a part of people’s memories for the last century, is another casualty of COVID-19. Business Insider reports that the company announced that it was permanently closing 96 of its stores (K-mart and Sears). CNN reports that Sears’ survival is doubtful, as it closed all of its stores in April and is only starting to open some of them.

Sears is shutting down for basically the same reasons as JC Penney. For rival retail stores, one’s demise should be the other’s joy, right? Wrong. JC Penney’s failure was a harbinger for Sears, but the retail store was too late to stop it. COVID-19 economic implications struck them hard, and getting back on their feet seems unlikely. 

From this, we see a trend. All the companies that are succeeding are all companies that provide services that are an integral part of everyday life (food, clothes, etc.) or help prevent the virus. These companies are also all online or avoid a lot of physical contact.

The companies that are failing are all physical stores, since their online counterparts can already meet the needs of the customers in a safer way. These companies are all stores which depend on shoppers physically being there and being (usually) in close proximity to others, which doesn’t support social distancing and quarantine. 

Through these trends, it becomes clear which companies are failing or succeeding. Those who are online seem to be the most successful, while those that are in person are failing.

During these harrowing times, there will be those who land softly or fall the hardest. However, by seeing who has benefited and who has not, we can acknowledge the struggles, look at the data and trends, and see what can be done to help those who have fallen get back on their feet.