Out of left field

October 26, 2020 JAK

Some businesses’ success under Covid was expected—think Zoom and Team View. Others are more surprising:

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Domestic opportunities

Once British householders had stocked up on loo rolls, they started to think of other things they’d need to cope during lockdown.  According to John Lewis, the first week saw a rush on freezers and landline phones, then sales of pasta and bread makers started to rise sharply. Now grooming products are flying off the virtual shelves. Hair dye sales are up 140% and those of hair removing kits are up eightfold (The Week, May 16).

Sales of sweet treats and tea have shot up during lockdown, Waitrose reports. Searches for scones are up 510% on the same period last year, while searches for iced cupcakes are up 300% and biscuits 379%. Sales of loose-leaf teas are up 10% with teapots up by 32%. Over at John Lewis, sales of cake stands are up by 67%.

Big ticket items

Home bakers aren’t sticking their cakes in any old oven. Suppliers of bespoke kitchens report a surge of buyers looking for restaurant-quality outdoor kitchens. These can cost £60,000. Some have under-floor heating. Deprived of their luxury holidays abroad, wealthy Britons have been installing private pools at their houses during lockdowns. Specialist companies say that enquires about their pools, which cost at least £90,000 are up as much as three-fold (The Week June 27).

Forecasting pays big dividends

Amazon.com Inc. justified its big ($4 billion) investments to keep operating through the Covid-19 pandemic with sales growth and a record profit that far exceeded analysts’ estimates, showing that staying open when so many businesses were forced to close was a rare opportunity. The Spectator said that the number of Amazon employees catching Covid was half the national average. (Sage, are you listening?)

That push paid off as customers shifted from buying groceries and emergency supplies early in the pandemic to bigger orders with electronics and housewares to settle in at home for the long haul.

Second-quarter revenue jumped 40% from a year earlier to $88.9 billion. Earnings were $10.30 a share, beating analysts’ average projection of $1.51 per share on sales of $81.2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Amazon’s forecast suggests the momentum will continue. Revenue in the current quarter will range from $87 billion to $93 billion with operating income of $2 billion to $5 billion, the Seattle-based company said.

On yer bike

Fear of catching coronavirus on public transport has helped lead to a boom in cycle-to-work schemes. They saw a 200% increase in bicycle orders from people working for emergency services. The BBC went on to say that demand for more mobility and exercise amid lifestyle changes imposed by the lockdown has also boosted bike sales across the UK.

The Bicycle Association’s executive director, Steve Garidis, says initial figures from across the UK industry show sales of bikes below £500 have been “especially strong” since lockdown – as well as for products such as home turbo trainers.

Peter Skelton, from the bike shop chain Cycles UK says the entire industry was “caught off-guard” by the increase in demand for bikes and that most UK distributors have run out of any bikes under £1,000.

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Picture credits: 

Coen van de Broek on Unsplash

Ramiro Pianarosa on Unsplash