Industries Recession Might Help
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15 Industries That Would Benefit From a Recession

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Industries Recession Might Help
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Up in a Downturn

As the stock market tumbles, businesses halt operations, venues cancel events, and consumers tighten their belts on all spending that doesn’t involve hoarding toilet paper, it’s hard to go a day without hearing a news report about the coronavirus and a pending recession. While that would be bad news for most, some industries have built-in mechanisms that allow them to survive — and even thrive — when economic storm clouds gather. Whether it’s about finding businesses to invest in or industries it’s safe to work in, these are worth a look.

Health Care
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Health Care

Our current economic downturn is about a health emergency, but the health care industry doesn’t tend to rattled by any kind of downturn. “Given our aging population and the high cost of health care in general, this sector is typically resilient to recessions and may actually see rising sales and profits,” said Caleb Silver, editor-in-chief of Investopedia. “Pharmaceutical products and medical services are nondiscretionary for most people who rely on prescription drugs and medical care for their health.”

Related: 15 Countries Where Americans Can Save Big on Medical Care

Consumer Staples
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Consumer Staples

Unlike clothing, entertainment, and other discretionary purchases, consumer staples are basic needs essential for everyday use and tend to perform better as a sector during downturns. “These include household goods, food, beverages, hygiene products, and other items that individuals are either unwilling or unable to eliminate from their budgets — even in times of financial trouble,” Silver says.

Discount Retailers
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Discount Retailers

When budgets are tight, people go to stores that help them stretch their dollars, even if they don’t tend to shop there during times of plenty, often for household necessities. “Discount retailers also tend to benefit during economic slowdowns, given their ability to offer most consumer staple products at low costs to entice bargain hunters,” Silver says.

Related: 28 Surprisingly Good Costco, Walmart, and Target Products

Utilities
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Utilities

Just like consumer staples, people have to keep utilities such as electricity in their budgets, even during the leanest of times. But that’s not the only reason the sector tends to perform well in troubled times. “Utilities are generally considered defensive stocks given their necessity and their recurring revenue models,” Silver said. “While their growth is more muted than other sectors of the market, they are slow and steady earners no matter the economic environment. They also offer relatively high dividends to investors looking for yield in good times and bad.”

Related: Which States Pay the Most for Electricity?

Service and Repair Companies
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Service and Repair Companies

Many service-based industries suffer during downturns, Silver’s Investopedia points out, including restaurants and maid services, because people tend to cut those luxuries out fairly early during a belt-tightening. Others, however, wind up doing better when the economy is down. They include service and repair companies, because budget-minded households and businesses will pay to fix the things they can instead of spending more to buy a new one.

Related: DIY Disasters: 20 Repairs to Leave to the Pros

Sin Industries
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Fast Food
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Fast Food

Americans have become much more concerned with eating healthy in recent years, but that concern runs only the length of their checking accounts. Fast food is cheap, filling, and laden with calories. According to Seeking Alpha, fast-food restaurants have performed well in times of economic worry, as people will often feed themselves and their families cheap burgers, nuggets, and fries when they have to, even if they don’t want to.

Related: How Fast Food Meals Are Less Healthy Today Than 30 Years Ago

Retail Consignment
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Retail Consignment

Businesses that sell used clothing and other goods tend to do well in down markets, for obvious reasons. Recessions don’t allow people to trim consumer staple spending, but they force cuts in discretionary spending such as for clothing, shoes, and toys. Even in tough times, however, people want clothes and toys of all sorts — even if they’re not new. When people are forced to sacrifice the things they want for the things they need, thrift stores thrive.

Related: Buy These 24 Things Secondhand to Save Big

Home Renovation Businesses
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Home Renovation Businesses

There’s an adage in real estate: Renovators hire as builders fire. In strong economies, people tend to buy new homes, so home builders thrive in those markets. In times of recession, however, people tend to fix up the houses they already own or can afford — a boon for renovation companies and stores that sell home remodeling supplies.

Related: 19 Home Improvement and Decor Trends for 2020

Staffing Firms
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Staffing Firms

Temp agencies are reliable indicators of looming recession because contingent workers are often the first to be fired when a downturn begins, according to staffing firm consulting group Advance Partners. Temp agencies are also an indicator of when a recession is fading because companies tend to turn to contingent workers first as they begin to dip their toes back into rehiring and expanding. So staffing firms are not recession-proof — but they historically start suffering last and recovering first.

Related: Can Employment Agencies Actually Help New Grads Land a Job?

Collection Agencies
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Collection Agencies

A sad fact of recessions: More people won’t be able to keep up with monthly payments, and they’ll go into default on their accounts. When that happens, lenders hire collection agencies to recover what they can or, when they finally write the borrower off as a loss, sell the account to debt collectors altogether.

Trash Services
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Trash Services

Like death and taxes, accumulated garbage is an inevitability, and it must be hauled away, recession or no recession. That, along with the fact that many trash-services companies pay hefty shareholder dividends, makes trash services a historically steady bet, even in times of economic chaos. In fact, some of the top trash-services stocks outperformed the market dramatically during the past recession in 2008.

Pawn Shops
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Pawn Shops

Pawnbrokers have the wind at their backs during economic downturns. That’s because when recession strikes, those hit the hardest often resort to selling their stuff and to seeking out unconventional short-term loans. Pawnbrokers buy collectibles and issue cash loans based on physical collateral, which means they clean up on both ends during desperate times.

Repossession Agencies
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Repossession Agencies

Recessions put people under economic strain, which leads to increases in loan defaults — including car financing loans. This, naturally, is a boon for the repo man — but only temporarily in the worst cases. In 2008, for example, there was initially a massive uptick in repossessions, but as the recession dragged on, the economy bottomed out, there were no more cars to repossess, and all but the highest-credit buyers weren’t getting loans to buy new cars, which led to a late-recession slump for the repo industry.

Static Industries
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Static Industries

Although they don’t necessarily improve during downturns, you can usually count on so-called static industries to chug along normally and not get swept out with the tide of a recession. Health care is technically static because people get sick no matter the whims of the market. Tax prep and accounting firms count, too, because the taxman cometh for people and business no matter what. Grave-digging and funeral services are static industries; death pauses for no economic indicator.