The shock of COVID-19 on a social, psychological and economic level has been nothing short of intense and has had catastrophic effects. Worldwide there have been over 110 million cases and almost 2.5 million fatalities. Long-established ways of living and working have been disrupted, some say permanently. Millions of people were told to work from home if they were able, and businesses worldwide had to close their doors for months at a time. Unfortunately, many companies did not make it to the other side of the crisis. For example, it is estimated that almost 100,000 businesses closed their doors for good in the United States alone.

Out of the chaos came some clear winners and some that did not fare so well. Several industries saw the pandemic decimate demand in a way never experienced before. Unfortunately, travel, hospitality and retail saw significant harm. Trustly estimates that the pandemic cost the travel industry US$3.3 trillion, eight times the loss of 2009 when the financial crisis hit. In the UK, the hospitality industry is estimated to have lost approximately £30 billion in the second quarter of 2020 alone. It is a similar situation for the retail sector, with estimated losses in retail sales of £728 million in Germany, £445 million in France, and £253 million from March 2020 to April 2020 alone. 

Which Sectors Experienced Growth?

Outdoor Sports Accessories

As millions of people were asked to stay at home across the world, many looked for ways to keep themselves entertained and active during periods of lockdown. In their report on the state of sporting goods, McKinsey argued that “categories that did well in 2020 (including outdoor individual sports, home exercise, yoga, e-sports, and virtual races) are expected to remain popular in 2021.” But how did the market perform by country?

Thanks to an emphasis on outdoor activities to reduce virus transmission, the outdoor sports accessories market is expected to reach US$15,100 million in 2021. The United States holds a significant proportion of the global sports equipment market at 25.8%. Although the coronavirus pandemic severely restricted sports participation at an amateur and professional level, individuals bought sports equipment that they could use at home, such as exercise bikes. 

outdoor sports

In the UK, the outdoor sports market experienced growth due to rising health concerns, government initiatives and a shift to outdoor exercise. The Department of Transport revealed that bike sales are expected to rise as weekday cycling has increased by 100% and weekend cycling by 200%. By the end of 2020, the UK made up 14.2% of the European sports equipment market, with a worth of $5 billion.

The European sports equipment retail market shrank by 2.2% in 2020 to a value of $39 billion. The primary factor driving the sports equipment retail market is the levels of sports participation. Unfortuntely, participation was saw a significant reduction in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, predictions for the sector are optimistic. Forecasts believe that the market will reach a value of 43.7 billion, a 12% increase since 2020.

When coronavirus restrictions ease and more people are vaccinated, it is expected that the global outdoor sports market will see sustained growth and is projected to reach US$181,263 million in 2021.

Car Parts and Accessories

Car usage reduced dramatically at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as individuals worldwide were told to stay at home. In the UK, road trips in cars were at 35% to 45% of the usual level during the first lockdown. By the end of 2020, the number of new cars registered for the first time was down 0.5% compared to 2019. You might expect this to lead to a reduction in the need for car parts and accessories. However, the opposite is true. The automotive aftermarket has been described as the most ‘recession-resistant’ part of the industry. When an economic downturn forces drivers to delay purchasing new vehicles, they instead turn to repairs to keep vehicles running as long as possible.

The automotive aftermarket size in the US is projected to reach US$513.1 billion by 2027. More consumers are shopping for car parts online, which helped boost the sector further in 2020. This helped to reduce the effect of stay-at-home orders and curfews. 

In the UK, revenues for the car parts and accessories sector are only down 4.4% compared to last year. During the 2020 lockdowns, garages were could remain open as essential businesses. As millions of people stopped using public transport, garages braced themselves for a higher number of MOT tests, service appointments, maintenance and repair jobs. 

car parts

The Situation in Europe

In April 2020, new car registrations of major European markets reached their lowest level since the Second World War. The European automotive aftermarket is experiencing disruption in the form of profitability shifting away from ‘traditional value pools’. For example, mobility as a service (MaaS) results in increased vehicle wear and tear, leading to higher parts sales, but reduced vehicle sales. Some commentators believe that the pandemic has created long-term tailwinds for aftermarket demand. Personal vehicles may replace public transport for many due to worries about virus transmission. Lower fuel prices will also encourage travellers to use their own vehicles rather than a bus or a train.

As millions of people around the world experienced financial uncertainty due to COVID-19, their attention turned to vehicle repairs rather than new purchases. Automotive aftermarket commentators say that the coronavirus crisis has changed the way that businesses operate. Alex Ashmore, Senior Vice President at Delphi Technologies, explained that “the auto industry was moving towards digitisation, and the pandemic has sped up the process.” Industry commentators are sure that the increase in eCommerce will ensure the sector has a future defined by growth.

Groceries and Home Delivery

In the United States and the EU 5, individuals purchased groceries online more frequently to reduce COVID-19 transmission. The sudden surge in demand for home-delivered groceries or ‘click and collect’ style systems occurred across all six nations. Even post-pandemic, supermarket shoppers will be drawn in by the promise of no crowds and less fuss, with the same result at the end – a car full of groceries.

Click-and-collect services have been growing in the US over the past few years. Sales of grocery delivery and pickup in the US surged from US$1.2 billion in August 2019 to US$7.2 billion in June 2020. Due to increased demand, industry revenue is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 7.4% to reach £22.6 billion over the five years through 2020-21.

In France in 2017, picking up online ordered groceries at a car collection point had a €3.8 billion revenue value, which was expected to grow up to €4.7 billion in 2020. In 2019, online food sales accounted for less than 1% of the total German food sales. Similar to Germany, Italian consumers seem less attracted by online grocery shopping than consumers in other EU countries. However, the market value reached €2.5 billion in 2020.

Groceries Shift Online

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online grocery delivery market’s growth, and industry commentators believe the trend will continue. Post-pandemic, e-grocery sales may climb to $250.26 billion in the US alone. In the UK, a spokesperson from the online supermarket Ocado said that the grocery landscape worldwide is changing “for good.”

The company have tight ties with Kroger in the US and Casino in France. They have plans to increase capacity in the coming years to meet growing demand. In a recent statement, the company said, “Online grocery market share in the UK has nearly doubled over the last year to 14%, according to Kantar. Similar trends are observable in the United States as well as many other countries around the world.”


Because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, millions of pupils worldwide transitioned to online learning. As a result, EdTech has found its time to shine and received record amounts of investment. Many students have experienced “Zoom University” over the last year, and Edtech startups are ready to take back the market. How are EdTech startups performing around the world?

For several years, educators in the US have been awaiting the next wave of disruption in the education market. The pandemic turned out to be the disruptive force that propelled EdTech into the spotlight. In the first half of 2020, U.S. EdTech companies raised more than $803 million in venture capital, according to EdSurge. More organisations are recognising the need to fill the education gap to create a truly productive workforce as automation becomes more dominant.

COVID-19 Accelerates EdTech Investment

In the UK, EdTech investment climbed by 91% from 2018 to 2019, and EdTech companies have raised a total of $857m in venture funding since 2014. In 2020, London’s EdTech sector had an estimated value of $3.4 billion. The UK is home to a range of disruptive EdTech companies such as BibliU, Switch by Jolt and Perlego.


In Europe, EdTech is high on the priority list. The EETN Project, funded by the European Commission, is a strategic partnership in the EU that brings together teachers, researchers, students and entrepreneurs to promote digital technologies in the higher education system. The proliferation of European EdTech startups has been revealed by HolonIQ, who has mapped out the 100 most promising European EdTechs

The pandemic has hastened the growth of the EdTech market. Technical transformation in the education sector was always going to occur, but COVID-19 acted as the catalyst for unprecedented expansion. Global venture funding for EdTech companies reached a staggering $4.1 billion between January and July 2020. Industry commentators have explained that COVID-19 may have hastened interest in EdTech, but it was always going to grow. Education Entrepreneur John Katzman said “I think education overall, it’s just really about COVID as an accelerant, changes that were already underway”.

Digital OTC Pharmaceuticals

In 2019, the global over-the-counter pharmaceutical market revenue worldwide was approximately US$114.65 dollars. In 2021, market revenue is expected to reach US$120,894 million. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the growth of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, pharmacies globally experienced “unprecedented demand” for over-the-counter medicines that could ease symptoms. Coronavirus is not the only reason for sector growth. Demand also stems from more awareness of self-care, which includes self-administering medications to improve health. 

The Global Online Pharmacy Market

The global online pharmacy market is in the growing stage, and it has achieved popularity and high penetration in developed countries such as the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and France, among others. The market consists of a few major market players such as CVS Health, Lloyds Pharmacy, and Zur Rose Group. In the US, more Americans are buying OTC medicine online. The country experienced a 44% growth in the number of customers purchasing online as many limited social contact to reduce transmission of the virus. 

In the UK, the total sales value of OTC medicine amounted to £2.74 billion in 2019. The pandemic forced many to seek alternative ways to purchase OTC medicine, with some people turning to buying online. For example, the NHS-approved online pharmacy Pharmacy2U saw visits to its website increase by 14.39% from March 2020 to January 2021. As well as the US and the UK, European countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain have key growth potential.

In a range of sectors, demand for eCommerce is growing. This is certainly the case in the OTC medicine market, which saw revenues climb significantly throughout 2020 because of COVID-19.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Apps

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in attitudes to both mental health and wellbeing. The global health crisis put immense strain on the mental health of millions of people as our lives saw rapid change. Millions of people have been living under lockdown for months where social contact is scarce. The crisis has shone a light on the benefits of mental health and wellbeing apps that may help individuals cope. 

The proof is in the numbers. The mindfulness app Headspace currently has over 700 million downloads across a range of platforms. Paid subscribers rose from 400,000 in 2017 to over two million by October 2020. It is clear that mental health and wellbeing apps are in demand due to the pandemic. According to Octopus Ventures, global funding for mental health technology has grown significantly in recent years, from £120 million in 2014 to £580 million in 2019.

Mental Health in the United States

The effect the pandemic is having on American’s mental health is concerning. More than 42% of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December 2020, an increase from 11% in 2019. The American Psychiatric Association is actively promoting the use of mental health apps in the United States. The organisation is running an initiative to determine which apps are the safest for consumers to use. The two most prominent mental health apps in the US are Headspace and Calm. Both apps have seen visits to their website grow since the pandemic began: Headspace has had a 41.84% rise in visitors and Calm a 24.95% rise since March 2020.

Mental Health in the UK

In the UK, the pandemic is having a negative effect on people’s mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, in December 2020, over half (54%) of the adult population felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks because of COVID-19. People are actively searching for ways to improve their mental health in the comfort of their home. For example, people in the UK downloaded mental health apps on masse during the first lockdown; The Telegraph reported that various mental health apps had been downloaded more than one million times since the start of the virus outbreak.

mental health apps

It isn’t only individuals who are searching for apps to improve their mental health and wellbeing. The NHS is promoting the use of a range of mental health apps such as Calm Harm, Chill Panda and Cove. The health service is in the process of assessing some of the apps. If there is sufficient evidence to show their effectiveness, they will formally give the apps their stamp of approval.

Mental Health in Europe

The social conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic have had a clear effect on individuals living in Europe. For example, in France, respondents reported twice the usual prevalence of anxiety disorders, 27% compared to 13.5% pre-pandemic. Even pre-pandemic, mental health startups were popping up in Europe such as Unmind and Panion. Demand is certainly there for mental health related services. For example, in France, website traffic to increased by 184.58% from March 2020 to January 2021. In Germany, visits to the and websites increased by 20.09% and 39.67% respectively from March 2020 to January 2021.

While the pandemic caused mental health to deteriorate across the globe due to periods of isolation and anxiety, a renewed commitment to improving mental health will remain after life returns to ‘normal’. Katherine Andersen, head of life science and healthcare relationship banking at Silicon Valley Bank, said, “I do think we’re going to see a lot of investment and activity generally across mental and behavioral health going forward”.


Software-as-Service businesses, which allow individuals to access software via a subscription-based model to an internet portal, have grown exponentially over recent years. It is predicted that 80% of businesses globally will use SaaS applications, but it could be sooner thanks to the sudden shift to remote or hybrid working. The SaaS market has grown from $5.56 billion in 2008 to a staggering $157 billion in 2020. SaaS companies are particularly attractive to private equity firms due to their high growth, recurring revenue and scalable business models. But how have SaaS companies performed in different countries, and what does the future hold?

SaaS in the US

The United States is home to over 8,000 SaaS companies, the most popular being Microsoft, Google’s G Suite and Salesforce. As millions of Americans began working from home at the beginning of the pandemic, businesses became increasingly reliant on software to resume operations. From March 2020 to January 2021, Microsoft received 1.69 billion total visits, a 35.52% increase. In the same time period, Salesforce received 426.7 million total visits and this is a 5.69% increase. 


SaaS Unicorns

Europe is home to several SaaS billion dollar unicorns, including Veeam, Monday, Darktrace, JFrog, and more. The venture capital firm Accel has been dominant in European SaaS investing, but general investment is growing quickly. From 2016 to 2019, it rose from $2 billion to $5 billion, growing much faster than in the United States, which grew from $15 billion to $20 billion.

For SaaS companies, the only way is up. As more organisations embrace remote or hybrid working, software will remain an integral part of any businesses’ operations. New developments in the sector will also draw in more investment. SaaS companies are integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into their software. These sectors typically attract large investment sums, and this is sure to continue into 2021.

eCommerce Platforms

The coronavirus pandemic has helped eCommerce reach an all-time high. The global eCommerce market grew from $399 billion in 2010 to $2.2 trillion in 2020, according to GlobalData. There is no doubt that COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on global retail operations. Throughout 2020, non-essential businesses globally had to close their doors for a period of time to reduce COVID-19 transmission. To try and mitigate the financial impact, many sold their goods via eCommerce platforms. Globally, eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce saw a sharp increase in website traffic. For example, BigCommerce website visits increased by 64.8% from March 2020 to January 2021.


A Reliance on eCommerce

In the US, consumers spent $861.12 billion online in 2020, an increase of 44% year over year. The increase is nearly triple the 2019 increase of 15.1%. The record-breaking figures certainly come as no surprise. The COVID-19 pandemic saw thousands of US stores close their doors for a time. This led to many customers buying online, some for the first time. This paved the way for eCommerce companies to grow their customer base significantly. The US is home to the world’s most dominant eCommerce company, Amazon. The eCommerce giant delivered record performance in 2020 with annual revenue up an astonishing 38% to $386 billion, a revenue increase of almost a third compared to the previous year.

Many non-essential retailers had to sell their goods online due to three separate lockdowns in the UK. What this resulted in was a significant boost for several eCommerce platforms. For example, in the UK, Shopify saw its website traffic increase by 34% from March 2020 to January 2021.

2020 was a stand out year for eCommerce. Worldwide retail sales grew by approximately 27%. As the world continues to embrace all things digital, the trajectory for eCommerce is undoubtedly positive. 

Digital Marketing Providers and Platforms

In the age of COVID-19, businesses have realised the importance of a solid digital marketing strategy. Many markets are experiencing saturation, with a variety of businesses offering similar services. It is important that companies use digital marketing effectively to reach target audiences and differentiate themselves from competitors. 

COVID-19 Inspires Behavioural Changes

Consumers have changed their behaviour over the years. They don’t just want to buy from a business, they want to interact with them. This trend accelerated when the pandemic hit and many non-essential businesses shut their doors. Customers turned to eCommerce and social media platforms to keep up to date with their favourite brands. In Q3 of 2020, global social media ad spend increased by 56.4% compared to the previous three months. Evidently, businesses are doing all they can to reach customers on digital platforms. A report by Ofcom found that people spent record amount of time online during the pandemic. British internet users spending approximately four hours online each day.


Social Media Usage Increases

In the same time period, social media giants experienced increased traffic to their platforms. From March 2020 to January 2021, Instagram traffic increased by 46.92%. In the same period, LinkedIn traffic increased by 36.09% and Twitter traffic by 26.01%. A report by Ofcom found that people spent a record amount of time online during the pandemic. British internet users spent approximately four hours online each day. The report also found that people spent 36% more time on social media. As time goes on, people are using the internet with increasing regularity. The pandemic appears to have supercharged this acceleration as individuals spent more time at home.

We’ve explored the sectors that will continue to experience growth after COVID-19. But which sectors will plateau? Find out here.