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A big year for the likes of Amazon and Netflix meant misery on Main Street

By March 23, Apple had lost $435 billion in market value in about five weeks, and many of its retail outlets were shut as the virus pandemic walloped the global economy and stock markets. Meanwhile, a report issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 2% of small businesses surveyed had shut down permanently in March.

On Dec. 30, Apple’s
AAPL,
-0.77%

stock market value totaled $2.29 trillion, up 133% since March 23. Meanwhile, Congress has approved nearly $300 billion in additional relief for small businesses, money that many hard-hit owners only hope can help them survive until the pandemic finally eases.

The success of Apple and other big technology companies and the struggles of the smallest of businesses is just one example of how the pandemic created winners and losers in the business world in 2020. Wall Street recovered after March; Main Street is still struggling.

In 2020, it hasn’t been uncommon to work remotely in sweatpants — while meeting on video conferencing platforms like Zoom
ZM,
-4.55%

— hop onto an expensive high-tech exercise bike afterwards and have your favorite restaurant dish delivered to your home (by a driver trying to earn a buck and hoping not to catch the coronavirus).

Of course, the flip side of that scenario has been deserted office buildings, empty restaurants and sparsely populated gyms. And as few people traveled, the airline industry needed billions of dollars in aid from the government and is still threatening to lay off workers.

What follows is a look at those businesses that benefitted from the pandemic and those that faltered.

First, the winners:

Big Tech: Big Tech was the big winner by far of the pandemic. Lockdown orders accelerated the big shift in life online that had already been underway. With work- and shop-from-home suddenly the norm, profits proved resilient for Big Tech even as the pandemic crushed movie theaters, malls and other industries. Apple, Microsoft
MSFT,
+0.33%
,
Amazon
AMZN,
-0.88%
,
Facebook
FB,
+0.47%

and Google’s parent company Alphabet
GOOG,
+0.71%

GOOGL,
+0.94%

now account for roughly 22% of the S&P 500 by themselves. Never before have five companies been so dominant on Wall Street. At the start of the year, those five accounted for less than 17% of the index. As 2020 closes, though, pressure is rising. Regulators across the country and the world are putting Big Tech under more scrutiny, which may jeopardize their leadership. (Take a closer look at the year in technology here.)

Streaming services: As movie theaters closed and lockdowns descended across the country, people turned to the ever-growing number of video streaming services for entertainment. Americans increasing their time streaming by 75% in the second quarter from a year ago, according to Nielsen, as the pandemic…

Read More: A big year for the likes of Amazon and Netflix meant misery on Main Street

2021-01-01 18:19:00

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