United Kingdom / Coronavirus Insights
Industries That Have Performed Well During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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by Gaetana Mak, Industry Analyst
Aug 17 2020

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has presented a formidable challenges to businesses across the globe. While some industries have inevitably endured financial hardship, others have thrived in this time of crisis. In this article, IBISWorld looks at some of the industries that have and are expected to continue to perform well post-pandemic, prompted by digitisation and the move online.  

Courier and logistics services

Demand for courier and logistics services has boomed during the pandemic, with growth largely propelled by online shopping as consumers remain at home. According to the Office for National Statistics, online retail sales as a proportion of total retail sales reached a high of 32.8% in May 2020, compared with 18.8% in May 2019. Despite the reopening of shops on 15 June 2020 following 12 weeks of closure, online expenditure still accounted for 31.2% of total sales in June 2020 compared with 18.3% a year earlier.  Supermarkets and household goods stores exhibited the strongest rise in online sales compared with June 2019, at 128.8% and 108.1% respectively. Meanwhile, textile, clothing and footwear stores exhibited the weakest growth rate, but still recorded a formidable 33.8% increase year-on-year.

The popularity of e-commerce is here to stay. Individuals remain cautious of a second wave of coronavirus cases and until confidence starts to increase and consumers feel safer in stores, high-street footfall will likely remain muted as people opt to continue to stay indoors and shop online, reinforcing behavioural change over the long term. The increased focus on personal hygiene and social distancing with long queues and inability to touch goods has also fundamentally eroded the sensory shopping experience advantage once held by bricks-and-mortar stores, further encouraging e-commerce activity and in turn raising demand for courier and logistics services.

To meet rising demand and aided by low barriers to entry, companies have ramped up hiring initiatives and the industry is likely to record an increase in enterprise numbers. From July 2020, Amazon has created 15,000 new full- and part-time warehouse and delivery driver jobs across the United Kingdom in goods fulfilment centres, where orders are processed, and in its logistics network. Meanwhile, courier firm Hermes expects parcel volumes to double to 3.5 million items a day by the festive season and is looking to hire 1,500 full-time staff across its delivery network and head office, as well as 9,000 freelance couriers, creating a total of 10,500 additional jobs. Meanwhile, data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation indicates job posting for heavy goods vehicle drivers increased 14% between 3 and 9 August 2020.

Related industries:

H52.100 - Warehousing & Storage in the UK
G47.910 - E-Commerce & Online Auctions in the UK
UK0.076 - Courier Activities in the UK
UK0.092 - Third-Party Logistics in the UK


Online Education and Training

Demand for online education and training is anticipated to rise sharply as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many schools and businesses to close their doors and look for new ways to continue to deliver classes and promote continuous development. Almost 20% of the UK's largest graduate employers have suspended graduate recruitment selection processes and stopped issuing job offers. In response, firms, such as graduate recruitment platform Bright Network, launched a series of free virtual training and internship programmes to help students gain new skills and boost employability.

Even as schools and office start welcoming back students and workers, strict social distancing rules will greatly reduce capacity and there is simply no way to deliver in-person instruction to all relevant individuals. In addition, some may people be unwilling or unable to return to on-site work. Social distancing constraints aside, there are numerous advantages of online education versus classroom-based teaching that are expected to continue to drive industry growth and uptake. For example, US primary research firm Brandon Hill Group suggests education and learning can reduce training time by between 40% and 60%, while learning management systems developer Docebo suggests online education can help increase knowledge retention by 25%-60% due to visually stimulating and more interactive content with additional features, such as gamification and virtual quiz assessments.

While remote learning not expected to replace the in-person experience entirely, there will inevitably be a greater reliance on conducting classes and training online. In short, the pandemic has hastened the adoption and use of technology in an educational setting, and individuals have become accustomed to a new mode of learning.

Related industries:

UK0.107 - Online Education & Training in the UK


Video Downloading & Streaming Services

Though certainly not a new phenomenon, video downloading and streaming services have continued to grow rapidly following mandatory lockdown measures. According to the BARB Establishment Survey, in the first three months of 2020, 53% of UK households subscribed to at least one of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or NOW TV. Netflix is the most popular service, with 46% of households having a subscription. Amazon Prime Video grew by 32% over the three-month period to reach 7.9 million household subscriptions. As video downloading and streaming subscriptions are typically monthly contracts that can be easily cancelled, it is possible that there will be a wave of cancellations as lockdown ends and people return to old habits. However, IBISWorld expects the number of individuals keeping subscriptions to outweigh cancellations and the industry to continue on an upward trajectory.

Social distancing measures from mid-March 2020 resulted in halted TV and film production in the United Kingdom, which caused gaps in programme schedules and delays in planned releases of content, the effects of which are still evident with the re-releases and resurgence of straight-to-digital releases. For example, on 5 August 2020, Disney announced Mulan was to be the first blockbuster to go straight to streaming in response to the pandemic closing cinemas.

Meanwhile, traditional channel content is being exhausted and individuals are spending increasing hours at home, consuming video content more frequently and for longer durations. These factors have prompted a shift in consumer attitudes and behaviour towards subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) offerings. For instance, according to Ofcom’s TRP Covid-19 Media Behaviours survey, 16.7 billion YouTube videos were watched by UK adults in April, equating to 380 videos per adult YouTube user. The daily average in the month was 13 videos, compared with 11 per month over the first three months of 2020. Despite being discretionary, streaming services are attractive due to their low-cost, flexible options, which has offered demand a degree of insulation from wavering disposable income and concerns over household finances.

Related industries:

J59.113 - Television Programme Production in the UK
J60.200 - Television Programming & Broadcasting in the UK
SP0.017 - Video Downloading & Streaming Services in the UK


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