The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives and careers, and has also placed a heavy burden on our economy.
In the second quarter, Singapore's economy contracted 13.2 percent year over year – the worst quarterly decline in history.
The gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 6.7 percent in the first half of this year and is expected to shrink by five percent and seven percent for the full year.
In addition, the pandemic has drastically changed the way we live and consume different products, creating a "new normal" in various aspects of our lives.
This has created opportunities for some industries and more problems than others. Here's a look at the winners and losers of 2020:
Safer Shopping: Ecommerce, Grocery & Grocery Delivery
Photo credit: Campaign Asia
There have been many comments on the decline in physical retail in Singapore, exacerbated by the pandemic.
When stores closed their doors amid the lockout or breaker, consumers turned to online retailers for recreational items and even groceries.
A report from data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData showed that Singapore has seen a surge in e-commerce transactions amid the pandemic.
According to e-commerce aggregator iPrice Group, e-commerce giant Shopee saw monthly web visits increase by 83 percent from Q1 to Q2 2020.
While buying groceries online may not have been very popular in the past, the pandemic has accelerated the trend among Singaporeans to opt for food delivery.
RedMart's online grocery sales in Singapore rose four times from early April, according to Lazada.
Photo credit: Singapore Foodie
In an interview with CNBC, James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore, said the company "hired about 500 people here in Singapore in just a few weeks" to significantly increase its capacity.
At the height of the pandemic in Singapore, many consumers even found it difficult to secure a delivery spot via online supermarket platforms.
Skeptics might wonder if the e-commerce boom is short-lived.
However, according to a report by The Straits Times, the trend is set to continue, and experts predict that e-commerce will play an even bigger role in the “new normal”.
In addition, the pandemic has led Singaporeans to use technology in their daily lives, making e-commerce an easily available and convenient option.
Receive healthcare from the comfort of your home
Image credit: SBR
Covid-19 has forced us to stay at home more, which sparked the rise of telehealth, which brings vital medical services right to our doorsteps.
As patients feel more comfortable consulting a doctor on the screen, telemedicine services are becoming increasingly accepted.
Telehealth is viewed as a marriage of healthcare and technology focused on the delivery of telemedicine and teleconsultations via SMS, web or mobile apps.
Telemedicine had already gained in importance in Singapore before Covid-19.
Since the late 2010s, the medical industry has embraced fast consumer technologies with the advent of platforms that provide on-demand and remote patient care options.
Industry insiders said the demand for telemedicine apps rose sharply in many countries after the pandemic.
However, it needs to be taken into account that while the telemedicine industry has received a much-needed boost from the pandemic, steps need to be taken to maintain adoption.
The Ministry of Health launched a new Licensing Experimentation and Adaptation Program (LEAP) in 2018 to provide regulatory sandboxes that can be used to develop new and innovative telemedicine models in a safe and controlled environment.
Accelerated development in this area is expected.
Everything is online now, even learning
Photo credit: Nikkei Asia
Covid-19 has shifted classroom instruction to video conferencing and online classes as schools in Singapore closed during the breaker.
From elementary school to university, many students of all ages have used video conferencing tools like Zoom in their classes.
Undoubtedly, online learning platforms like Zoom have seen exponential growth this year.
Eric Yuan, CEO and founder of Zoom, saw his net worth grow 77 percent to $ 7.8 billion in just two months. Zoom now has a market cap value of $ 122 billion, down from $ 18.8 billion in 2019.
In addition to such one-dimensional platforms, parents of younger children are increasingly looking for more interactive platforms where they can learn from a distance.
This has resulted in educational technology (edtech) applications and platforms becoming increasingly popular during this period.
For example, Koobits, an edtech startup, had to turn off its servers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to prevent its students from working after bed.
The online learning platform uses a combination of gamification and community-based learning to make learning fun. Children register and use the platform themselves.
In an interview with Vulcan Post, Koobits founder Stanley Han announced that the Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated its expansion significantly.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, edtech's growth rate is expected to triple within the decade, from US $ 107 billion in 2015 to US $ 325 billion in 2025.
Funding for startups in the industry has also increased.
According to Holon IQ, funding for edtech startups increased from $ 500 million in 2010 to $ 7 billion in 2019. Another $ 87 billion is expected to be invested over the next 10 years.
More physical retail stores are collapsing
Robinson's Closing Sale / Photo Credit: Coconuts.co
In addition to the undeniable effects of COVID-19 on the individual and society, it has also placed a heavy burden on many retail businesses.
Bans and secure distancing measures have resulted in a significant drop in customer traffic, which translates into lower profits.
Companies had to swivel quickly or risk getting out of business. Even so, factors such as rental and labor costs could still be an obstacle to business continuity plans.
This year, Singaporeans have already said goodbye to a multitude of domestic and international brands.
For example, Robinsons – one of the oldest department stores in Singapore – has left Singapore for good after losing money in recent years.
According to a report in the Business Times, the store had posted losses for at least six years as sales fell.
Other closings in Singapore include Bakerzin, Sportslink, Topshop and Topman and many more.
In addition to problems with paying labor and rent, these closings have also been exacerbated by the shift in consumers towards e-commerce.
Finally, it is undisputed that online purchases are usually cheaper and more convenient.
Aviation may never fully recover
Photo credit: business traveler
The airlines are badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as leisure air travel has been suspended indefinitely.
By June 2020, major airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways and Emirates had shed tens of thousands of jobs.
Despite the additional support of the aerospace industry worth S $ 187 million, Singapore Airlines (SIA) had already sold half of the S $ 8.8 billion stock sales in two months.
With most countries' borders closed to some extent, it is unlikely that airlines will see any performance gains anytime soon.
Although governments around the world have introduced green lanes for business travelers, these efforts do not go a long way towards increasing airline profits.
Airlines had to find innovative ways to maximize their resources.
For example, Taiwanese Eva Airlines has launched flights to nowhere to emulate the travel experience for customers with a travel shortage.
On the other hand, SIA started tours in restaurants and training centers on the plane.
Within half an hour, all slots for the two-day run on October 24th and 25th for lunch on board the largest A380 aircraft were sold out and there was a waiting list.
However, with most airlines' revenue streams cut off, the aviation sector is unlikely to get back to its pre-Covid-19 performance anytime soon.
Many nightlife facilities have been closed for months
In March, entertainment venues covering bars, nightclubs, discos, cinemas, theaters, and karaoke outlets were closed with uncertain reopening plans.
Cinemas have since reopened from July 13th, but bars, clubs, karaoke outlets, and other entertainment outlets have still not been allowed to reopen.
Some facilities have chosen to turn to stay open. For example, Zouk has partnered with the Absolute Cycle gym to hold spin classes on their dance floor.
The award-winning nightlife giant also launched the Zouk Cinema Club, a brand new pop-up cinema experience.
More recently, the government announced a three-month pilot program to reopen nightlife facilities. However, you must adhere to strict Covid-19 rules, including mandatory pre-event testing.
In addition, these institutions had problems before the pilot program was announced.
For example, Teo Heng KTV Studio founder Jackson Teo previously shared with Lianhe Wanbao that Teo Heng is expected to incur losses of $ 500,000 for a month-long shutdown.
Since it has been closed for seven months, it can be assumed that their losses so far have amounted to S $ 3.5 million.
Back in July, Teo Heng announced that half of its 14 branches in Singapore will be closed due to COVID-19.
So far, Teo Heng has only discontinued and returned two sales outlets. There are also no plans to request the reopening of the pilot program.
It is expected that other nightlife facilities will also suffer heavy losses due to the prolonged shutdown. While the reopening program could provide some relief, it may not be enough to make up for the losses incurred.
Does COVID-19 really sound like a death knell for some industries?
While the pandemic is indeed a devastating event for businesses, it is not a death sentence.
In some situations, companies have spun quickly, resulting in even more growth than before.
For example, the JustCo co-working space has grown steadily despite most people working from home. It was also possible to identify an increasing demand for “work from anywhere”.
JustCo at Centrepoint was the first intelligent co-working space in Singapore, which tested a new concept for the use of work areas, which ushered in a new era of "Work From Anywhere".
In some cases, for example in the aviation sector, it is also important that the government intervene as a large amount of capital is required.
On the other hand, it doesn't go without saying that growth will always be on an upward trend, although some industries may be booming as a result of the pandemic.
In the end, it is the responsibility of the business owner to identify new trends quickly and keep growing.
Selected image source: BioSpectrum Asia