The impacts of Covid-19 on the surf industry

March 30, 2020 | Surfing
Wipeout: the novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic will hit surfing hard | Photo: WSL

The novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is having a powerful impact on the world's economy. Here's how it is and will affect the surf industry.

For many of us, this is World War III. The only difference is that, in this particular situation, the enemy is invisible, fast, and attacks all nations.

Covid-19 will not destroy infrastructures, and there will be no buildings hit by bombs and bullets - but the number of casualties will probably be in the millions.

As with any other war, economies are hit hard. And everyone will be affected by the cascade effects generated by this unprecedented global health epidemic.

The financial system will go through liquidity and capital problems, and household and company balances will be dramatically destabilized.

Millions of companies and small businesses were and will be forced to shut down, lay off or freeze their activities for an unknown period of time.

The traditional (and relatively stable) supply-and-demand equation of recent times will be severely shaken.

And when there's no money for rents and basic needs, what happens to the surf industry? The outlook isn't great, but where there's hope, there's life.

World Surf League (WSL)

The professional surfing circuit has been put on hold.

As a result, all events have been canceled or suspended, meaning no prize money for athletes, no sponsorship deals, and less multichannel earnings.

WSL is focusing on content to keep fans engaged and to stay afloat in choppy waters.

Surf Tourism

For many small coastal communities, surfing is their golf.

The world's best surf breaks attract millions of travelers every year in search of perfect waves.

If people aren't allowed to drive or fly to California, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Portugal, France, Fiji, the Maldives, or Australia, popular surf towns will lose a critical revenue stream.

Additionally, hotels, hostels, homestays, and restaurants - which are closed due to the outbreak - will also suffer a huge financial blow.

Surf Schools

Thousands of coastal communities, districts, and counties have already closed their beaches to the public to avoid large gatherings.

There are hundreds of thousands of surf schools and private surf instructors that depend on lessons to put for on their tables and survive.

These businesses are closed indefinitely.

Surf Shops

Surfers have always relied on their local surf shop to get advice to buy their gear essentials.

In the recent past, whether you were buying a wetsuit, a leash, a surfboard, wax, or earplugs, you knew you could try, touch, and feel the product before making a decision.

Many surf shops across the world were already closing because of the growth of online channels and retailers.

The situation is now even more dramatic because surf stores work with relatively low margins.

And they have stocks accumulating in the warehouse. And they have rents to pay. And they have employees.

Surfing: the industry will not be the same after Covid-19 | Photo: WSL

Surf Brands

If no one is allowed to step on the beach, why would anyone buy a surfboard, a pair of boardshorts, cool shirts, sandals, or waterproof surf cameras?

Yes, there are dark clouds ahead for manufacturers.

And the future doesn't look for both small and global surf-related industries - the decrease in demand will be abrupt and potentially tragic.

As a result, some of the world's most famous brands might disappear forever.

Surf Media Outlets

With the advent of the digital age, the majority of surf magazines closed or shifted online. That was in the mid-2000s.

However, the present isn't bright for those who are able to strive via internet channels.

Online surf media publications are suffering severe cuts in business earnings due to the loss of advertising revenues.

Things are already complicated for general-interest newspapers, so it's easy to figure out what the future holds for specialized surf-related news websites, magazines, and blogs.

Wave Pools

In the past decade, the world of surfing witnessed the rise of an exciting new niche.

The wave pool industry started growing fast, with multiple players presenting different wave generating solutions.

Large investments were made in test facilities, and some early movers spent millions in first-generation surf lakes.

New public wave pools opened weeks before Covid-19 spread throughout the planet but were forced to close its doors immediately after for safety reasons.

How will investors get their money back? Who will make an investment decision during these troubled times?

Wave pools are a capital-intensive business that requires time and a large volume of customers to break even.

Unfortunately, if Covid-19 isn't defeated quickly, the vaccine might not be enough to make it a sustainable option in the medium term.

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