2020 was an unusual year for business. From experiencing some of the biggest stock market contractions, to seeing some of the biggest rebounds in history, industry analysts have struggled to keep pace with what direction the markets appear to be going in.
The story on the job loss and creation front has been much the same. With many countries around the world experiencing record levels of job losses, whilst at the same time seeing demand for workers explode in certain sectors as economies have opened back up.
With this in mind, despite all the economic doom and gloom that seems to be circulating in certain sectors of the financial press, there are a number sectors that look promising this year.
Ecommerce and online retail
It has been clear for more than a decade now that online shopping is the future for retail, and the experiences of the last twelve months have shown how important digital has become to the sector. According to one recent report, global ecommerce sales totalled $3.53 trillion (£2.55tn) in the last year; a figure that is expected to grow to a staggering $6.54 trillion (£4.73tn) in 2022.
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to experience the most significant online retail growth, but significant sector growth is expected around the globe. And as ecommerce grows, so will the related sectors of the digital economy from online platforms to financial services to logistics and delivery.
Online entertainment, social, and iGaming
Recent experiences have demonstrated that despite being physically apart, it has now become possible to chat with friends, watch films, and play games together. The massive growth of Zoom in 2020 illustrates the virtual future where physical proximity is no longer the defining factor on who people can socialise with, and whilst everyone is looking forward to socialising in person these technologies for virtual meetups are here to stay.
Video games continue to be a growth industry, with the sector already on a recruitment drive to find the next generation of star game designers and developers. However, the online gambling sector has perhaps performed even better over the last 12 months and Ibis World included the global casinos and online gambling industry in its top ten list of the fastest growing industries, with revenue growth predicted to reach 17.7 per cent in 2021. The industry is expanding globally, especially in the US as gambling laws are relaxed state-by-state, but much of the increased revenue comes from established markets. For example, this casino accepts UK players and has seen significant growth over the last 12 months, despite the UK market considered significantly saturated by market analysts.
Although not strictly an ‘industry’ in the conventional sense, any sector or company that is focused around sustainability or helping companies to operate in a more environmentally friendly way also looks set to experience significant growth going forward as consumers make more environmentally conscious decisions.
As the reality of climate change sets in, and with governments around the world placing increasingly stringent environmental regulations on companies, all companies have started to re-evaluate their environmental impact. And with the more socially and environmentally conscious Millennials and Generation Z beginning to dominate spending power, companies that move quickly and prove their green credentials and set out their sustainability goals will be the ones that succeed in the economy of the future.
Last year gave the world the opportunity for a reset, and whilst some sectors continue to struggle those that have embraced digital and have a renewed focus on sustainability are likely to be the ones that will drive the economy into 2022 and beyond.