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Canalys: Pandemic has created winners and losers

As anyone in the channel serving vertical markets such as hospitality and travel will already know, there have been some real business victims of Covid-19

The coronavirus has created some winners and losers and the channel needs to make sure it is operating in areas that have accelerated through the pandemic.

Steve Brazier, president and CEO of Canalys, kicked off the analyst firm’s EMEA Channel Forum event with an update on the Covid-19-ravaged landscape.

Brazier would normally have been striding across a stage in Barcelona, but in a virtual session he updated the channel on what had happened so far in 2020 and what was likely to happen beyond.

Dividing the world into those that have been losers and winners, he warned that some areas would never return to the way they were before March 2020.

Retail and offices have already seen the impact of the coronavirus and Brazier’s view was that there had been fundamental changes and some shops would never return and some workers would not return to offices.

That will have repercussions for city centres and for the businesses that have grown up – dry cleaners and coffee bars, for example – around those hubs to serve workers.

“It is a fundamental change and there will be some recovery, but it will never be as strong as it was in the past,” said Brazier.

Industry events, sports and air travel were “tactical losers” and had been hit hard in the short term, but they would recover once restrictions were eased and it was safe to do so, he said. Hotels, theatres and music venues were in a similar position.

“We are confident those industries will come back when it is safe to do so,” he said.

In the short term, there had been some winners, with food retailers enjoying stronger sales as people are eating more at home. Those selling home office furniture had seen increases and Brazier expected a dominant brand to emerge to build on the sales of the past few months.

He added that the home fitness market had also boomed, which had played into the hands of technology providers operating in that space, such as Peleton.

Strategic winners during the pandemic had included those working in e-commerce, with many businesses seeing their online sales increase during the pandemic, and 25% of all UK spending now coming from that route.

Combined with improved delivery models, providing users with timed slots, in many cases the experience of buying online was as good as, if not better than, physically going into a store, said Brazier.

Video conferencing has also seen demand increase during the last few months and that is likely to remain, even if life gets back to a more normal footing.

“We will go back to meeting people when we can, but we will have a key component of video going forward,” said Brazier.

Most of the more profound changes were happening on a more personal level, with cycling, e-vehicles and a shift to renewable energy all accelerating. People were making decisions about how best to live their lives and making decisions to move for more space and leave behind expensive and cramped city-centre living, he said.

Some of the other verticals to see acceleration included education and health, which have long been served by the channel.

“Tech in education has been a very high growth area as people have rushed to learn from home,” said Brazier, adding that there had also been a tech revolution in the healthcare industry.

The theme of this year’s Canalys Forum is “refelect, reconnect and rebound” and Brazier will give more details over the next couple of days of how the analyst firm expects the future to look.

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