How COVID-19 Consumer Spending is Impacting Industries
Consumer spending is one of the most important driving forces for global economic growth.
Beyond impacting some of the factors that determine consumer spend—such as consumer confidence, unemployment levels, or the cost of living—the COVID-19 pandemic has also drastically altered how and where consumers choose to spend their hard-earned cash.
Today’s graphic pulls data from a global survey by McKinsey & Company that analyzes how consumers are reining in their spending, causing upheaval across every industry imaginable.
While some industries are in a better position to weather the impact of this storm, others could struggle to survive.
The Link Between Sentiment and Intent to Spend
As consumers grapple with uncertainty, their buying behavior becomes more erratic. What is clear however, is that they have reduced spending on all non-essential products and services.
But as each country moves along the COVID-19 curve, we can see a glimmer of increasing optimism levels, which in turn is linked to higher spending.
India’s consumers, for example, are displaying higher levels of optimism, with more households planning to increase spend—a trend that is also evident in China, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
Meanwhile, American consumers are still more optimistic about the future than Europeans. 37% of Americans believe the country will recover in 2 or 3 months—albeit with optimism levels at the highest for people who earn over $100K.
Strategic Consumer Spending
Globally, consumers continue to spend—and in some cases, spend more compared to pre-pandemic levels—on some necessities such as groceries and household supplies.
Due to changes in media consumption habits, consumers in almost all countries surveyed say they will increase their spend on at-home entertainment. This is especially true for Korea, a country that already boasts a massive gaming culture.
As restrictions in China lift, many categories such as gasoline, wellness, and pet-care services appear to be bouncing back, which could be a positive sign for other countries following a similar trajectory. But while consumers amp up their spending on the things they need, they also anticipate spending less in other categories.
The Industries in the Red
Categories showing an alarming decline include restaurants and out-of-home entertainment.
However, there are two particularly hard-hit industries worth noting that are showing declines across every category and country:
Travel and Transport
The inevitable decline in the travel and transportation industry is a reflection of mass social isolation levels and tightening travel restrictions.
In fact, the U.S. travel industry can expect to see an average decline in revenue of 81% for April and May. Throughout 2020, losses will equate to roughly $519 billion—translating to a broader $1.2 trillion contraction in total economic impact.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, a staggering 50 million jobs are at risk in the industry, with 30 million of those jobs belonging to employees in Asia.
Considering the travel and tourism industry accounts for 10.4% of global GDP, a slow recovery could have serious ramifications.
Apparel is experiencing a similarly worrying slowdown, with consumption 40-50% lower in China compared to pre-pandemic levels. Both online and offline sales for businesses the world over are also taking a major hit.
As consumers hold back on their spending, clothing brands of all shapes and sizes are forced to scale back production, and reimagine how they position themselves.
“It’s an unprecedented interruption of an industry that has relied on speeding from one season’s sales to the next. And it is bringing with it a new sense of connectedness, responsibility and empathy.”
—Tamsin Blanchard, The Guardian
Towards an Uncertain Future
Clearly the force majeure that is COVID-19 has not impacted every industry equally.
For some, rebuilding their customer experience by appealing to changing values could result in a profitable, and perhaps much-needed revival. For other companies, there is no other choice but to play the waiting game.
Regardless, every industry faces one universal truth: life after the pandemic will look significantly different.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs Since 2020
How bad are the current layoffs in the tech sector? This visual reveals the 20 biggest tech layoffs since the start of the pandemic.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs This Decade
The events of the last few years could not have been predicted by anyone. From a global pandemic and remote work as the standard, to a subsequent hiring craze, rising inflation, and now, mass layoffs.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, essentially laid off the equivalent of a small town just weeks ago, letting go of 12,000 people—the biggest layoffs the company has ever seen in its history. Additionally, Amazon and Microsoft have also laid off 10,000 workers each in the last few months, not to mention Meta’s 11,000.
This visual puts the current layoffs in the tech industry in context and ranks the 20 biggest tech layoffs of the 2020s using data from the tracker, Layoffs.fyi.
The Top 20 Layoffs of the 2020s
Since 2020, layoffs in the tech industry have been significant, accelerating in 2022 in particular. Here’s a look the companies that laid off the most people over the last three years.
|Rank||Company||# Laid Off||% of Workforce||As of|
Layoffs were high in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, halting the global economy and forcing staff reductions worldwide. After that, things were steady until the economic uncertainty of last year, which ultimately led to large-scale layoffs in tech—with many of the biggest cuts happening in the past three months.
The Cause of Layoffs
Most workforce slashings are being blamed on the impending recession. Companies are claiming they are forced to cut down the excess of the hiring boom that followed the pandemic.
Additionally, during this hiring craze competition was fierce, resulting in higher salaries for workers, which is now translating in an increased need to trim the fat thanks to the current economic conditions.
Of course, the factors leading up to these recent layoffs are more nuanced than simple over-hiring plus recession narrative. In truth, there appears to be a culture shift occurring at many of America’s tech companies. As Rani Molla and Shirin Ghaffary from Recode have astutely pointed out, tech giants really want you to know they’re behaving like scrappy startups again.
Twitter’s highly publicized headcount reduction in late 2022 occurred for reasons beyond just macroeconomic factors. Elon Musk’s goal of doing more with a smaller team seemed to resonate with other founders and executives in Silicon Valley, providing an opening for others in tech space to cut down on labor costs as well. In just one example, Mark Zuckerberg hailed 2023 as the “year of efficiency” for Meta.
Meanwhile, over at Google, 12,000 jobs were put on the chopping block as the company repositions itself to win the AI race. In the words of Google’s own CEO:
“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today… We have a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products and are prepared to approach it boldly and responsibly.”– Sundar Pichai
The Bigger Picture in the U.S. Job Market
Beyond the tech sector, job openings continue to rise. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a total of 11 million job openings across the U.S., an increase of almost 7% month-over-month. This means that for every unemployed worker in America right now there are 1.9 job openings available.
Additionally, hiring increased significantly in January, with employers adding 517,000 jobs. While the BLS did report a decrease in openings in information-based industries, openings are increasing rapidly especially in the food services, retail trade, and construction industries.
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