Drive-in movie theaters

Outdoor drive in cinema USA
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The drive-in used to be a kitschy throwback, but since regular theaters are still shuttered, more Americans are rediscovering the drive-in as a practical place to catch a flick during the lockdown.

Even when social distancing measures ease up, people will still be wary about sitting in a room full of strangers. The renaissance at America’s few remaining drive-ins could continue well after the quarantine is over.

You may not be able to go to the lobby and get yourself a snack, but at least you’ll be able to adjust your seat.

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Coffee delivery services

Tattooed barista holds bags with freshly bake coffee beans ready for sale and delivery
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Americans have been forced to look beyond their beloved coffee shops to get their caffeine fix. And since most connoisseurs wouldn’t touch a cup of instant java with a 10-foot pole, delivery services have been brewing up big sales.

CO, a publication by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, notes subscription-based companies like Trade Coffee and Blue Bottle are getting a lot more attention. Many local roasters are also offering delivery options for their beans during the pandemic.

So even though you can’t enjoy your usual banter with the sassy barista right now, you can at least get a decent cup of joe.

Board game and puzzle makers

Board game concept- board game field, many figures, meeple, dice, coins and sandglass. Two people play holding cards on blurred background
PicMy / Shutterstock

With theaters, arcades and escape rooms all closed for the foreseeable future, Americans have been forced to find entertainment at home. And since there’s only so much screen time a person can handle, companies that make games with plain old paper and plastic are on a roll.

Ravensburger told CNBC in April that sales of its jigsaw puzzles shot up by a whopping 370%. Board game sales have spiked as well — particularly the hit cooperative game Pandemic, in which players work together to stop the spread of infectious diseases. Sounds fun, right?

Grocery stores

Food delivery during corona virus outbreak. Courier wearing face mask delivering grocery order in coronavirus epidemic. Safe shopping in pandemic. Takeout meal. People stockpile food.
FamVeld / Shutterstock

Most restaurants have been required to close their dining rooms during the pandemic. As a result, grocery stores have seen a huge boost in sales.

It’s not all food, either. Supermarkets and independent grocers alike have been overwhelmed by demand for everything from bottled water to toilet paper. Justified or not, people are scooping up whatever they think they might need.

Then there’s the surge in online orders. The long lines and unease that comes with social distancing measures are inspiring more people to spring for delivery or pickup. Analytics firm 1010data says Walmart saw $900 million in online grocery sales in March — double the amount it earned during the same month last year.

Fortune tellers

Fortune teller using tarot cards on red table
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The pandemic has been an uncertain time for everyone. And where do people turn in times of uncertainty? To those who can see the future, of course.

Since the start of the pandemic, supernatural readings are up 140%, according to Yelp. Thankfully, spiritual mediums are able to provide tarot readings, numerology and even seances online or over the phone.

So if you’ve always been curious about seeing a psychic but have been too nervous (or embarrassed) to do it face-to-face, now might be the perfect time to give it a shot. And don’t worry about contacting them out of the blue — they’ll be expecting you.

More: Have a special talent of your own? Use Fiverr to find people eager to buy your skills.

Fitness equipment providers

Determined woman losing weight at home and exercising with dumbbells. Sport and recreation concept. Beautiful woman in sportswear with blue dumbbells in her hands.

Crowded and sweaty gyms and yoga studios remain off-limits due to the pandemic. To stave off the dreaded “quarantine fifteen,” many people have started working out at home.

Research and Markets reports sales of exercise equipment like dumbbells and yoga mats have spiked 170%.

Fit-tech companies like Peloton and FightCamp are going big with interactive machines that let users take part in live and pre-recorded classes. This high-end equipment doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re willing to shell out a few grand you can enjoy all the benefits of a personal trainer from the comfort of your living room.

Liquor and wine stores

Couple enjoying food delivered by takeout app modern dining in and romantic date night
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Not surprisingly, Nielsen data shows alcohol sales are up more than 15% during the pandemic. Pubs and bars are still closed, so many Americans have been enjoying a “quarantini” or two at home instead.

Sharing a few drinks over video chat has become a popular way to connect with friends and family, especially for birthdays and other special occasions that occur during the lockdown.

Some enterprising souls have also been buying spirits to try to make their own hand sanitizer and disinfectant at home. However, the alcohol content in vodka or whiskey doesn’t reach the World Health Organization’s recommended level for disinfectant, so you may as well keep your supply for fun instead.

Telehealth services

Doctor video chat consultation. Telemedicine or telehealth concept.
Proxima Studio / Shutterstock

People want to stay as far away from hospitals and doctor’s offices as possible right now, so telehealth companies that provide virtual consultations with physicians and therapists are thriving.

Citing data from Frost and Sullivan consultants, CNBC reports that demand for telehealth visits went up by 50% in March.

As an added perk, seeing your doctor via webcam will not only lower your risk of exposure to the coronavirus, it will also reduce your exposure to all those decade-old golf magazines in the waiting room.

Face mask makers

Homemade protective mask and pieces of cloth on a gray background.
Danilova Janna / Shutterstock

Simple strips of cloth are driving one of the biggest growth industries of the pandemic period.

Several states have asked Americans to use masks in public, and with the ongoing shortage of medical-grade options, demand for cloth masks has skyrocketed.

The craft marketplace Etsy currently has more than 400,000 listings for face masks, many of which feature unique designs. As bizarre as it may seem, masks have become the next hot fashion accessory, and it doesn’t seem like sales will slow down anytime soon.

Commercial cleaning services

Portrait Of Happy Male And Female Janitors With Cleaning Equipment
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Some states have already begun to ease their social distancing measures. As workplaces slowly and carefully start to reopen, commercial sanitizing services are cleaning up –– literally and figuratively.

Although housekeepers are finding little work during the pandemic, companies that specialize in sanitizing office buildings and medical facilities have seen a spike in business. In mid-March, the handy job board ZipRecruiter told media outlets that help-wanted ads for cleaners and janitors were up 75% over the same time last year.

Customers are now opting for more extensive and more frequent deep-cleaning services, and as more Americans return to work the demand is only going to get higher.

Online booksellers

Young girl taking a pile of books out of the box
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock

With brick-and-mortar bookstores and public libraries closed, online booksellers have been receiving reams of orders since the start of the lockdown.

Novels about epidemics, like Albert Camus’ The Plague and Dean Koontz’s The Eyes of Darkness, are the hottest sellers right now.

In fact, The Guardian reported in early March that e-book sales of Koontz’s 1981 book — about a fictional virus coincidentally called Wuhan-400 — are up by 3,000%.

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About the Author

Shane Murphy

Shane Murphy


Shane is a reporter for MoneyWise. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from Western University and is a graduate of the Algonquin College Scriptwriting program.

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