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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Just Who Prospered During Covid?


The coronavirus pandemic changed the landscape of the world economy almost overnight. Certainly, industries who before would see handsome turnovers year on year had their custom suddenly wiped out – or at least massive reduced. We are all aware of the biggest losers from Covid, as the effects of their misfortunes were all around for all to see. Moreover, many of us working in these industries were directly affected. Governments the world over rolled out programs of financial aid for those worst effected, the most notable example being perhaps then-President Donald Trump's decision to send every American a check for over $1,000. All this aid was targeted at the industries that suffered, and we know who they are – hospitality for one, the music industry for another.

The Great Reset

But Covid was not just an unmitigated disaster for the world economy, and many decided instead to see it as more of a violent restructuring. The 51st World Economic Forum, somewhat sinisterly, announced that the pandemic should instead be thought of as "The Great Reset", suggesting that rather than a disaster, it was more of a wake-up call; a prompt to rejig the global economy so to better withstand such events in the future. Indeed, it looks like the move towards greater global economic integration was only bolstered during the pandemic, with remote connectivity becoming even more of a staple of modern business than it had been before. Not only was global travel severely restricted (necessitating more remote business operations), but the number of people working remotely from their normal place of work went through the roof.

To that end, therefore, communication technology – and the companies that manufacture and supply such technology – were not hit hard by the pandemic at all. Quite the opposite, they prospered. And with the IMF seeming to not only accept but lend its support to the fundamental changes that Covid made to the world economy, it suddenly becomes clear that not everybody saw the pandemic as purely a disaster, at least not in economic terms. (One would hope that the massive loss of life and cultural disruption wreaked by the pandemic would be universally condemned, the IMF's seemingly optimistic attitude notwithstanding).

Are We Returning to Normal?

And now, as the pandemic subsides (or, more accurately, we are able to manage it better), some industries do seem to be returning to normal. Hospitality, the industry which was perhaps most famous for being disastrously hit, does at least seem to be returning to normal, excepting a new preference for electronic payment and a greater emphasis on hygiene, safety measures, and the appearance of new Covid safety equipment. Other industries, such as live events and public services, are similarly beginning to resemble their pre-Covid selves, albeit with like changes.

Some businesses though are not going back to normal. And those are the ones that rely on the technology, or which conduct business operations in a certain way, to only thrive during the pandemic. It is no surprise that these were the ones that were moving in that direction before the pandemic anyway, and it's no surprise that these are also the businesses that are heavily invested in increased global economic and communicative integration. The IMF, which serves the interests of such businesses, would not have taken such an optimistic view of the pandemic otherwise.

Who Did Well Out of Covid?

So, this then leads us to the question: who did well out of Covid? Which businesses prospered and saw their profits only increase as the services they provided became more essential during the pandemic? The following are Covid's winners:

Online Retailers

Covid shifted almost everything online. And while the manufacturing side of things certainly suffered (new car production, for example, took such a hit that the used car market stole much of its custom throughout the pandemic), the sale of products online skyrocketed.

Online retailer Amazon saw its profits increase throughout the pandemic, as people ordered things online to avoid the perceived danger of picking things up in person. Between March and June of 2020, Amazon's stock price increased by nearly $1,000.

This is a clear example of Covid-bolstering market trends that had been apparent before the outbreak, as Amazon had only been going from strength to strength anyway. Similarly, many other industries that have both a brick and mortar and an online component have seen the former suffer and latter benefit. For example, real estate agencies took a hit, while online property websites thrived.

Workspace Solutions

Another industry, touched on above, that saw its already rosy pre-Covid fortunes only accelerate during the pandemic were those providing workspace solutions for remote working. Specifically, it is the technology that makes this type of work both more efficient and the technology that addresses the cyber security concerns of remote working, which has profited from the pandemic. According to Gartner, nearly a quarter of CFOs said that they would move at least 20% of their onsite staff to permanent remote positions. This is an example of a change that is not going to be reversed, and it is thanks to this trend that these companies have profited.

The most famous success story here was Zoom, which became the unofficial online communication platform of the pandemic. The danger may now be subsiding, but Zoom's fortunes certainly are not.

Online Entertainment

As will come as a shock to absolutely nobody, Netflix gained a massive advantage over physical cinema-flix for the majority of the pandemic. It's easy to see why. With people stuck indoors with no access to traditional outside entertainment, the internet couldn't but come to the rescue. Streaming sites in general performed well during the pandemic and the movie studios that many of them have set up similarly profited. Visiting the cinema has been declining in popularity for decades, mainly thanks to ever increasing prices, and the pandemic was only fuel to that fire.


The last industry that we will include on this list (other candidates could have been hygiene products and alcoholic drinks) is the only one that primarily operates out of a physical location. Although many supermarkets offer online shopping services, these became oversubscribed during the pandemic and many people continued to physically shop. As an essential service that remained open, supermarkets no longer required the same marketing force to get shoppers in the door, as more people took to cooking home meals and – often in a state of panic – stocking up on essentials. It would seem like the traditional supermarket is one institution that is set to stick around for some time yet.

Covid may have seemed like an unmitigated disaster to many, but as the runaway pandemic era success of these businesses shows, the story was also more complicated than that. 

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