For many who find themselves either out of work or living in fear of being out of work, a recession is a stressful time. Consumers and businesses are going to feel the effects for months to come, and the world won’t realize the real impact until years after the event. Because people are feeling the pressure in the moment, it’s tough to think of the benefits that can come from this difficulty. The good news is that some benefits do exist and may not be that far-fetched.
Bargain Shopping Opportunities
A recession involves falling incomes and negative economic growth, leading to less spending due to lack of cash or the instinct to save out of fear of possible unemployment. The reduction in demand means that businesses have to cut prices to move goods and improve liquidity. This provides a great opportunity to scoop up items, sometimes name brand products, at more attractive prices.
Real Estate Prices Drop
A recession is a great time to buy real estate. Buyers are often able to more successfully counter-offer sale prices because sellers have had to lower their prices to match the market. Buyers may be able to not only buy at a price close to what they offered, but they may even get a few additional incentives upon closing the deal.
Cheaper Online Entertainment
Video and gaming streaming services are an economical way of spending on entertainment compared to going to the movies or buying individual video games. During our current time of school and workplace closures, at-home entertainment is more important than ever, and subscribers may be able to get a deal or two. Closures and isolation have severely hurt Hollywood productions and movie theater sales, but opened up opportunities for online streaming services. In addition to having anticipated movies going straight to video-on-demand, there could be more competitive subscription pricing.
Portfolio Building Opportunities
One of the best ways to build an investment portfolio is to focus on consumer staples. These are companies that provide essential needs, such as toiletries and even affordable luxuries like candy and sodas, which tend to see healthy profits during poor economic times. Along the same lines, go for companies that have high sustainable yields, because they take less time to rebound. Finally, it may be beneficial to focus on a fixed income portfolio instead of stock funds to avoid the risk strategy of figuring out when stocks will rise and by how much.
Prior to the 2009 recession, many homeowners borrowed against their home during pricing rises, which left them overleveraged when the housing market collapsed. A smarter strategy is to take advantage of lowered interest rates and refinance during the recession. This way, homeowners are taking that cash out of their house and using it in the economy, which not only helps the recovery process but also acts as their financial buffer.
Operational Efficiency Improvements
There isn’t much research on how to help companies survive a recession, but numbers show that 9 percent of them wind up coming out of it much stronger. The idea that fast and deep job cuts will speed recovery is shortsighted and may wind up doing the opposite. One of the strategies the successful businesses employed was a focus on improving operational efficiency, as opposed to relying heavily on cutting jobs. In addition to that, they also made greater investments in research, development, and marketing.
Better Financial Preparedness
Recessions don’t just happen. There are signs, such as increases in personal insolvency rates in the months prior to the economy slowing to a crawl. One of the lessons recessions teach is to plan for emergencies. People tend to save more in economic downturns and take those lessons with them throughout the process and beyond. On top of that, professionals are advised to start or continue investing during this time in preparation for the next potential dip.
Inflation is the combination of increasing prices and lower purchasing value of a currency. In a recession, economic output decreases, which weakens consumer expectations and leads to lower inflation. When it comes to goods, lower demand means less spending, resulting in a price reset. This is good because consumers will be in a better position to borrow money that they can spend.
Life Expectancy Could Rise
One unexpected benefit of a recession is a longer life. During the Great Depression, average life expectancy went up by approximately six years between 1929 and 1933. During the more recent Great Recession, a study showed that in 15 European countries, mortality rates declined in general. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact reason, but some of the educated guesses include the fact that less employment led to fewer cars on the road, which improved air quality and resulted in fewer accidents.
Better Workplace Productivity
One study showed that at a technology firm, workplace productivity during the years of the Great Recession increased by 5.4 percent. At least 85 percent of employees boosted their productivity and those who were least productive before the recession had the strongest improvement. Concerns with profit and making it through the recession influenced employees to be more productive by at least half a percentage point higher than the local unemployment rate. Although an increase in productivity is a benefit at face value, it does not negate the stress and fear employees experience during an economic downturn.