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Seven positives of 2020 — the year the world stood still but penguins loved more

29 January 2021 - 08:13 By TimesLIVE
One of the loveliest aspects to emerge from 2020 was the way marine life flourished while humans stayed home.
One of the loveliest aspects to emerge from 2020 was the way marine life flourished while humans stayed home.
Image: Supplied

It was a year filled with death, dismay and depression — but there were some upsides to 2020.

According to public relations and integrated marketing agency, Irvins Partners, there were at least seven positive trends to take out of a year like no other:

1. You got to overtake the Joneses

One of the trends that surprised everyone was the growth that happened in the property market.

Despite Covid-19 effecting the property market initially, things took a turn for the better when the prime lending rate — which affects how much you repay on your monthly bond instalments — dropped again and again and again ... five times in a row, to be exact.

By November it hit a record 7% — the lowest it’s been in 55 years.

2. Who wears the pants? Men joined the online shopping wave

A surprising number of males joined in the online retail therapy fun, with e-tailers in certain segments showing an uptick in their male audiences.

One of those was SweepSouth, an SA on-demand home-cleaning service, which by year end had seen its male audience growing by 25%.

Another area where e-tailers saw a growth in male shoppers was in fashion.

In December 2020, RunwaySale — an SA online shopping society — saw a phenomenal 99% year-on-year increase in men shopping for fashion online.

Men also treated themselves, adding luxury items like watches and shoes to their carts — in fact, accessories saw an increase of 52% (accessories in total) and 30% in sales during the December period.

3. Nature felt nurtured

One of the loveliest trends to emerge from 2020 was the way in which marine life flourished while humans stayed home.

During lockdown, experts like Jon Monsoon, host of the Penguin Experience on Airbnb, where 100% of what participants pay goes to AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, noticed how marine creatures started enjoying more time in areas that humans would usually occupy.

Sea creatures which have thrived under lockdown include Cape clawless otters, which have been enjoying our quiet beaches, while huge pods of dolphins (2,000 strong) have been fishing undisturbed in False Bay.

Whales are currently also able to communicate with one another without having to “shout” over the noise of full-scale commercial shipping.

4. Rent-to-own became hip

In the year where gyms closed their doors and office buildings stood vacant while people worked from home, exercise equipment and proper work-from-home furniture rose in importance.

Teljoy — an SA rent-to-own provider — responded by expanding its online rental range.

“The pandemic suddenly forced us to re-evaluate our value proposition to ensure it aligns to customer needs and market trends. We quickly expanded our product to the things that people were most interested in at a very unusual time in recent history, such as gym equipment and home office equipment,” said Teljoy CEO Jonathan Hurvitz.

5. Plant-based food on our plates

With people ever more aware of the health benefits of plant-based eating, food producers met that consumer demand last year, with a slew of innovative and delicious new plant-based products popping up in our supermarkets.

“Research shows that South Africans are looking for food choices that increase their fruit and vegetable intake, rather than completely avoiding animal-derived ingredients, which supports the trend towards plant-based and flexitarian living,” said Roelien Havenga of Daymon, a global brand and retail solution provider.

6. Art went online

The art industry — notoriously resistant to the online space — found a creative solution to Covid-19 restrictions by embracing online wholeheartedly.

Sotheby’s held more than 100 online sales between March and June 2020 and their online turnover grew almost 1000% from the same period in 2019.

Locally, Latitudes. Online launched in July 2020.

“Within just six months our platform has been viewed in 124 (of 195) countries around the world and we have been shipping artworks by African artists daily to countries as far afield as the US, New Zealand, Reunion, Morocco, Italy, France and Hong Kong,” said director Lucy MacGarry.

7. Entertainment industry innovation

One of the industries that was hit the hardest during the pandemic was events and entertainment.

Pan-African ticketing company, Quicket, was not deterred and quipped that the pandemic was the “mother of invention”.

It saw the success of online events and created a number of new products like hosted streaming, video-on-demand, easy donations through QR codes, and a fundraising portal.

Comedian Marc Lottering even set an online attendance record, with 15 000 viewers in his “front room” for My Fellow South Africans.

The events and entertainment industry was one that clearly showed South African resilience during an extremely tough year.

There’s no denying that 2020 was a year filled with challenges, but there were also silver linings that we can build on over the next few months, to ensure that 2021 is a kinder, better year for all.


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