Everyone knows about the many COVID-19 losers — but there is also a surprise list of winners from the pandemic.
People who thought they were in niche businesses or even in a dying industry in 2019 suddenly found themselves more popular than the last pack of toilet paper on the supermarket shelf.
Demographer Bernard Salt told The Sunday Telegraph coronavirus has put a halt to 30 years of treating homes like hotels and heading out for fun and food.
“The term cocooning went out of fashion 30 years ago as people chose apartment living and spent more time at restaurants, cafes, bar and gyms,” Mr Salt said.
“Coronavirus is encouraging ‘cocooning 2.0’ where people are nesting and investing in their homes.
“Buying the kids a cubby house, pursuing hobbies like vinyl record collecting and spending more time cooking are all examples of people embellishing their home life.”
Dene and Alex Gambotto bought a new cubby house for their kids Mia, 7, and Luca, 5. Picture: Tim Hunter
Castle Cove mum Dene Gambotto bought a new cubby house for her children Mia, 7, and Luca, 5, to get them “out of the Wi-Fi zone” and enjoying some old-fashioned fun.
“We wanted a cubby house so the kids could have more imaginative play, fall over, get dirty, get hurt — we want all that,” Ms Gambotto said.
“Part of it is recreating my own happy memories playing outdoors with friends in the safety of our backyard.
“I have been working from home and I love the sound of our kids and their friends playing outdoors.”
At a time when streaming services put almost every track at your fingertips, vinyl is bizarrely booming.
Vinyl sales are between 50 per cent and 60 per cent higher than last year, with a run on classic rock vinyls from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
“Vinyl sales have been growing steadily for a number of years but the current growth is around four to five times what we were seeing pre-COVID,” JB Hi-Fi’s product manager of music Mike Glynn said.
“As for which genres or age group are buying vinyl, this is very broad and seems to be a mix of an older demographic rediscovering their passion for vinyl and a younger generation discovering vinyl for the first time.”
Vinyl enthusiasts Bradley Cork, 29, and Jade Smith, 26, spend less time on the train listening to digital music. Picture: Tim Hunter
Music lover Bradley Cork, 29, from Sydney’s inner west enjoyed the richer sound of vinyl while working from home rather than listening to streamed music on his commute.
“Vinyls have a richer sound and you can hear things in the layers of music you don’t hear through an audio or computer file,” Mr Cork said.
“I was able to work from home during the pandemic, which meant I could indulge in listening to a vinyl instead of listening to music on my phone while catching the train.
“I was also looking for ways to fill the void of live music and vinyl collecting was one way.”
Collecting records filled the void of cancelled live music gigs for Bradley Cork and Jade Smith. Picture: Tim Hunter
Old box sets
There are more streaming services than ever, both free-to-air and paid, but seemingly that’s not enough for us as back catalogue movie sales and box sets have soared.
“During COVID, customers have been using movies for comfort and purchasing titles that have nostalgic value attached to them,” JB Hi-Fi product manager Movies Kerrie Taylor said.
“Theatrical movie new releases have completely halted due to global closures of movie cinemas but direct-to-video titles have seen an upswing in sales as customers are quickly grabbing any and all new content.”
During lockdown we weren’t allowed to go for a drive so, strangely, that inspired more people to pop the hood on their cars and get stuck into DIY auto repairs and modifications.
Car part retailer Supercheap Auto has registered a 7.6 per cent increase in sales across the board, despite cars being stuck in the garage for months.
Sales of ute liner paint, which is applied to ute trays to cover up scratches and protect from corrosion, has more than tripled at Supercheap Auto since the pandemic began.
More people have been tinkering with their cars.
Western Sydney turbocharger accessories manufacturer Turbosmart has seen sales rise 40 per cent since the pandemic hit, with no sign of slowing.
“Guys are sitting at home, working remotely, staring at their car in the garage and deciding to do them up,” Turbosmart CEO Nic Cooper said.
“You can fit a turbocharger to anything from a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to a Mazda RX7 all the way up to a Lamborghini.
“We thought demand would slow down but it’s gone crazy.”
With restaurants and cafes shut for weeks, we rushed back into the kitchen.
Online bookstore Booktopia is selling 80 per cent more cookbooks than it did before the pandemic.
But it’s gone further than that as home cooks tried exotic, old-fashioned and complicated dishes.
There was a surge in home cooking during lockdown.
“Things like electric frying pans, which are old-school technology, are selling well as more people try Asian-style cooking,” Harvey Norman’s general manager of appliances Carene Myers said.
“There has been a rise in Italian and French cooking, with more people buying mixers, food processors and pasta makers as well as multi-cookers with sauce function.
“People who cancelled their holidays to France are having friends over and cooking French cuisine instead.”
Dart boards have flown off the shelves at Rebel Sport, with sales tripling during the pandemic.
Jigsaw puzzle suppliers still cannot keep up with the demand. Puzzle wholesalers whose warehouses were emptied during lockdown are sending all new shipments straight to games stores, with bare shelves and back orders to fill.
“People are spending more time at home with their family and friends, as well as travelling locally,” The Games Shop owner Anne Mayes said.
“They are looking for something to enjoy as a group, so card games and board games are still doing very well.”
Dart board sales increased.
Overseas holidays have been banned indefinitely but, weirdly, more people are learning a foreign language than when we could travel internationally.
New Australian users of language learning app Duolingo almost tripled between March and April and traffic still remains close to a third higher than before COVID-19.
The most popular languages to learn are French (16.4 per cent), Spanish (16.3 per cent), Japanese (11.6 per cent), Italian (10.8 per cent) and German (7 per cent).
“We expect this is a result of more students using Duolingo while attending school remotely, or more adults using Duolingo while working from home,” Duolingo’s Sam Dalsimer said.
From beer to bourbon and salami to sourdough, more Sydneysiders are brewing and fermenting at home.
When pubs shut during lockdown there was a run on gas bottles and regulators.
Since then, drinkers have worked out they can make their own beer for half the price.
Sales at Illawarra home-brew store All Things Brewing quadrupled during lockdown and remain twice as healthy as the same time last year.
“We’re still busy because people have discovered how cheap and effective home brewing is,” co-owner Andrew Pearce said.
“Home-brewed beer used to taste like it was brewed in a bathtub but it has come a long way in the past 10 years with new recipes and techniques.”
It’s not just beer either, with more people making their own spirits, liqueur, cheese, yoghurt, jam, pickles and preserves.