This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

The Businesses That Are Thriving in 2020

DATE: 24/08/20

AUTHOR: Fiona Kennedy

Business Friend or Foe?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that 2020 has so far brought nothing but challenge and struggle to businesses all round the world. A global pandemic and recession are not on the list of ‘desirable business conditions’ for any entrepreneur. But it turns out that there are some businesses and some areas of the global economy which have been thriving through 2020. Companies who have tapped into the needs of nations and who, rather than downsizing, are looking to scale up.

Historically, a period of economic challenge or recession has always yielded success stories. Some of the most impressive companies in history were built from the ashes of recession. Companies have looked outside for opportunity. They have responded to the economic climate and have come up with a product offering that the world needs.

Thriving During a Pandemic

So, which are those areas of the economy that are managing to survive and prosper when all around them, other companies are struggling? There are several areas that have found the 2020 sweet spot and have so far been lucky enough to ride the wave of success unlike many of their counterparts:

Gardening and Home Improvement

A move to sustainable living has been emerging in recent years and has seen a particular boost during 2020. Consumers have been keen to maintain and improve their own homes and gardens and to become more sustainable for the future. Sales of vegetable and fruit plants and trees, seeds, and home growing kits have soared. Home improvement stores and garden centres who were able to supply via an e-commerce site or directly through local home delivery have enjoyed a huge boost in sales.

Pet Provisions

We are many nations of pet lovers the world over but never before have our pets felt our presence and indeed presents more than during these past few months. Sales of pet accessories, food products, training equipment and of pets themselves, have been unprecedented. From puppies to chew toys, cat beds to tropical fish, we are all investing in our animal friends more than ever before.

Home Beauty Products

With months stuck at home and a void where visits to the hairdresser or beauty salon used to exist, consumers have quickly turned to DIY beauty treatments. Whether it’s home hair dye or micro needling kits, sets of clippers or hand held massagers, many of us have decided to take our beauty care into our own hands. Businesses who retail beauty products via e-commerce stores or local salons that can deliver have been consistently busy throughout 2020.


We’ve all found ourselves at home more than ever before. And whether we’re juggling work and children, or managing being alone or caring for someone, it’s been a challenging time. Many consumers are taking to crafting as a way to balance out cabin fever, to redirect frustration or stress, and to pick up new skills during lockdown. From crochet to knitting, watercolour to macrame, companies suppling offering crafts supplies and tutorials are seeing sales soar.


Gaming in every sense of the word. Not just computer gaming but also traditional gaming. Sales of board games, video games and consoles have spiked during recent months and don’t seem to be slowing down. Nintendo disclosed that sales of the Switch have been hard to keep up with and they have been unable to make enough games to meet demand. The same is reflected in the sales of traditional and family board games, brain puzzles and skill-based games.

Home Fitness

No surprises here. We’ve all been prevented from going to the gym, traditional group classes are no longer and many of us may not have been able to leave the house to do exercise if we’ve been shielding. It’s inevitable really that we have turned to any opportunity for home fitness both for physical wellbeing but also for our mental health. From Peloton to Ballet Barre classes, P.E with Joe to TRX suspension training, we’ve all been looking for ways to stay active at home. Sales of fitness equipment as well as the purchase of online classes have hit new highs. Many consumers are even indicating that they might prefer this way of working out to a traditional gym format. The future of fitness may be changed forever.

Food and Alcohol Delivery

With no option to go out and eat or drink, many consumers have been looking to food delivery services to keep them going through the lockdown period. Whether it’s takeaway from JustEat or Deliveroo, or grocery delivery from your local butcher or online supermarket, sales of food have soared. Demand is matched only by that for alcohol. Wine clubs and off-licence home delivery busier than ever, soaking up much of the unspent income from bars and clubs.


Do you know anyone who has not placed an order with one of the e-commerce giants this year? We’ll be surprised if you do. Amazon reported a 26% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2020 with figures set to grow. Naked Wines reported a £200 million rise in revenue so far in 2020 and other e-commerce sites are experiencing similar success. While everyone has been at home, unable to go to the high street and shop as normal, it makes sense that reliable e-commerce stores are receiving more engagement. Whether consumers start to go back to the high street in the same numbers as before remains to be seen but it’s unlikely that we’ll stop consuming digitally either way.

To say that life has changed considerably in 2020 is an understatement. We’re all living and consuming in very different ways. And for most businesses, it has been and will continue to be a very challenging time. But out of the ashes of hardship does rise success. It’s always interesting to look into which companies have tapped into the needs of nations and are reaping the economic reward now.



Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.