The Novel Corona Virus has brought the business world on its knees. Most of the sectors like the tourism sector, hotel industry, luxury sector, etc. have taken a huge hit. The problem in the Farming Sector needs a separate write-up altogether. It is my fear that we may face a severe problem in the coming Rabi crops reaping season. But some sectors which have taken a hit are not as visible as the others. Let us take a look at some of these sectors…
Retail Cash Management: Retail Cash Management is an activity which happens behind the scenes. Big retailers like DMart, Reliance Fresh, Shoppers Stop, etc. at the end of the day, collect the cash that they receive at theirs counters, hand it over to the cash collectors, who then deposit this cash at the respective banks. This is a free service provided to the retailers, theatres, etc. by the banks and this service is outsourced to companies. Needless to say, the cash movement is in crores of Rupees every day. As of now, this industry is at a standstill. But the real fear is that this industry might not revive to its previous highs at all. This is because of two reasons:
- More and more people who frequent these places have learnt to use credit cards and/or online transactions/google pay, etc. in this period of lockdown.
- The fear of currency being infected with the COVID 19 virus by certain anti-social elements, has now taken root and people are avoiding cash even for smaller transactions. This fear will remain for atleast 3 or more months. By this time, more and more people will have learnt to reduce use of cash for even smaller transactions.
If cash transactions reduce even after the lifting of the lockdown, there is every chance that many companies in this retail cash management sector will either close down or that banks start charging the retailers for such a service. Either way, this sector will face losses in the short run and take a severe hit in business in the long run.
Marriage Arrangers: This is another industry which employed lakhs of people and which is now gasping for breath. The Indian marriage industry gave employment to weavers, tailors, beauticians, DJ artists, photographers, entertainers, caterers, hall owners, owners of equipment for hire, house owners, hotels, jewellers, travel agents, taxi owners, and many, many more. All these people have been severely affected because during lockdown, either the marriages have been postponed or they have been held in a low key manner, with only the closest of relatives. With the fall in equity prices, loss of incomes and the anticipated fall in earnings, it is definite that this industry will take a long time to revive. There is no doubt that for the next 12 months at least, people will have low key weddings and anything viewed as a non-necessity activity will be curtailed.
Event Management Industry: This is next which will definitely take a hit. Companies will definitely indulge in cost cutting and weekend getaways, unnecessary seminars and out of town group gatherings will be either cut off or curtailed. This means that the event management industry which was dependent on big corporates for business will be affected heavily.
Interior Decorators and allied services: With the anticipated cut in jobs, salaries and business incomes, there is no doubt that people will defer costs involved in refurbishing their houses and offices. This Ganesh Chaturti and Diwali will definitely see fewer painters, carpenters, masons and the likes being employed in redoing their houses. The smaller companies in the Paint, Tiles & Marbles and Cement sectors, to name a few will also be affected.
Retail Dairy owners and cattle owners (tabelas): The people involved in this industry have already faced losses. This is because of the reduced demand because of the lockdown. Most of the retail dairy owners do not have facilities to store milk or convert the milk to other high-end products like milk powder, ice cream or cheese which have a longer shelf life. The price of fodder also is likely to go up, which means a further increase in expenses for the cattle owners. There is an urgent necessity to arrange for collection of excess milk from these dairy owners daily by big companies such as Mother’s Dairy, Amul, etc.
Allied service industries in the Film Industry: Everyone knows that the Film industry has shut shop for the time being. But there are several sectors which are dependent on the Film industry. Animation companies, dubbing artistes, equipment providers, sound studios, cosmetics industry – all these are some of the companies which are dependent on the Film industry. The Animation sector which employs thousands of youngsters in India and abroad, has gone into a downsizing overdrive. Many of these companies had asked their people to take a lower pay home. But now, with USA being hit by COVID 19 in such huge numbers, the fear of unemployment looms large.
Horticulture: This industry has been hit massively, especially because of the seasonal and short life nature. Not all farmers are able to store fruits, vegetables and flowers for a longer time. With local markets being closed or frequented less and exports also being hit, seasonal fruits such as oranges, grapes and mangoes which give their growers an income for the entire year ahead, have suffered a great loss. The government urgently needs to help these farmers via their co-operatives to preserve the fruits or convert them into other products like jams, pulp and others. Similarly, the flower growers can be helped by giving an incentive to the scent-making industry and candle making cottage industries, to absorb atleast some of the produce.
While the list above is not exhaustive, it represents some of the industries which could go into deep problems, unless their needs and expectations are addressed by the Government. This virus has not just affective the physical health of people, but also the mental and financial health of the people and of the economy. The coming days will test the capability of the Government to handle such unexpected situations and keep the country crime free. For this, the entire country should speak with one voice and support the steps taken by the Government wholeheartedly.