Covid-19: industries – shiners and strugglers

content chess winners losers

The coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis is significantly affecting a number of industries. Supply chains have been disrupted, unemployment rates have shot up and consumer behaviour has changed dramatically. And while government stimulus packages and interest rates dropping to near zero might provide a supportive environment for recovery, it’s not yet clear whether it will be enough.

Here we’ll look at some of the sectors that are thriving and those that are struggling. If you’re looking for a job now, consider the industries that are benefitting from the changing environment. 

But then don’t discount those that are struggling, as they may be hiring finance professionals in preparation for the recovery, or to help limit risk amid the crisis.

Shining… so far

  • Cloud computing

Cloud computing was a fast-growing sector even before the crisis forced many of us to work from home and companies to migrate workloads to the cloud. The pandemic is effectively forcing organisations to quickly undertake digital transformation. There’s no turning this trend back now, this industry will continue to grow globally. 

Key players: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle, Kamatera, VMware, Adobe, IBM Cloud, Rackspace, Red Hat, Salesforce, Verizon Cloud

  • Video conferencing and collaboration

This segment has boomed as people rely on video conferencing to work, to attend classes and to keep in touch with friends and relatives. While nothing can replace face-to-face interactions and there will be a return to more usual ways of doing things, this sector will remain very active. 

Key players: Microsoft, Zoom, Skype, ON24, BlueJeans, Cisco, Poly, PGi, Intrado, StarLeaf, GoTo, Google, Avaya, RingCentral, Crestron, Lifesize, Vonage, Enghouse, Gather, Pexip, 8x8

  • Electronic payments

With physical cash quickly disappearing in favour of electronic payments via our mobile phones, 

the fact that some shops are now only accepting digital payments in an attempt to limit the spread the virus will only serve to boost this trend.

Key players: Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, X-Payments, Bitcoin, Braintree, Stripe, Due, Square, BitPay, GoCardless, Payline Data, SecurePay, 2Checkout

  • Ecommerce

Another sector that was already enjoying strong growth before the crisis, to the detriment of traditional bricks and mortar retail. However, it’s been given a boost by the fact we’re not leaving the house to spend money, we’re doing it online.

Key players: Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Rakuten, B2W Companhia Digital, Zalando, Groupon, Wal-Mart Stores, Alphabet, Facebook, Baidu, Suning Commerce Group, IKEA Group, eBay

  • Streaming, gaming and video content platforms

With schools, universities, bars, restaurants, gyms all closed and sporting events, music festivals and holidays not an option, video games and streaming movies and TV have seen immense growth in popularity. Another trend that will likely see a dip once lockdown measures have lifted, but not enough to derail it, as it was strong even before the crisis.

Key players: Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Microsoft Xbox, Google Stadia, PlayStation, Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Rockstar Games, Nintendo


Search hundreds of roles from all over the world on ACCA Careers

Sign up for a job alert tailored to your desired location and role


  • Online food & drink

Crisis or not, we still have to eat and drink, and if we can get our groceries delivered in a time when the advice is to stay in doors or to socially distance, this is going to be a popular option. There is a big question around whether consumer behaviour has been forever changed by the crisis. Will those who got used to ordering groceries online stop doing so once the pandemic has passed?

Key players: Coles Online, Ocado, Yihaodian, AmazonFresh, Walmart Grocery, Instacart, Emart, Lotte, Homeplus, 7-Eleven, Lazada

  • Logistics and warehousing

With all these products being bought online and delivered to people’s homes, they need a supply chain. Logistics in some instances has become a front line service during the crisis. Big box warehouses are springing up all over the world to cater to the commerce boom and with it a boom in warehousing automation innovation.

Key players: DHL Supply Chain, XPO Logistics, Ryder Supply Chain Solutions, NFI, Geodis, FedEx Logistics, Daifuku, SAP, Zebra Technologies, Honeywell, 6 River Systems, Geek+

  • Pharmaceuticals and healthcare

Unsurprisingly given the Covid-19 pandemic is a public health problem, healthcare and pharmaceuticals are in demand sectors. This relates to virus treatment, supply chain management, biotech, personal protective equipment, as well as the race for a vaccine. Meanwhile, many people’s regular or scheduled healthcare needs have been delayed, so there will be high demand for some time to come.

Key players: Amgen, Pfizer, BioNtech, CytoDyn, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Regeneron, Inovio, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi

Struggling… for now

Airlines | Tourism | Casino & gaming | Leisure facilities | Arts & culture | Hospitality | Oil & gas | Automotive | SMEs

In one way or another, all of these industries have been affected by stay-at-home measures and social distancing causing a steep fall in demand. Airlines is likely to be the worst hit sector during the crisis, followed by tourism, which has a knock on effect to the hospitality and leisure industries. The demand for oil has dropped as people aren’t driving as much, which also means people are buying fewer cars. The automotive industry is also affected by the disruption to its supply chain.

However, once a recovery is underway, these sectors are likely to recover rapidly, or at least try to, both of which should provide strong drivers for finance recruitment.

The right skills for the times

In this landscape businesses require finance professionals who can bring a little extra to the table. Technical skills will need to be sharp, as firms seek rich and reliable management insight to support strategy. Emergency financial analysis is needed. Companies want an edge over competitors. They want to cut costs and find efficiencies. 

Accountants need to be more than technologically competent, they need to be at home using contemporary systems and software, analysing data and providing rich and dynamic information. 

Management will want accountants to explain the finances and any recommendations in terms that they can quickly understand and act upon. Accountants will more than ever need to be business partners who work with colleagues across a business to drive growth and, in some cases,  to survive.

Back to listing