The fear of facing a recession is always overwhelming. Unfortunately, recessions are something we can't control on a personal level, and as a result, you’re probably a bit worried. However, you can prepare for a recession financially by switching your career path into a recession-proof job or business.
Recession-proof businesses can thrive despite an economic downturn. Which in turn means more financial stability for you!
If you worry about financial security or want to start a business, then consider looking at recession proof industries.
But before we dive into what industries are recession proof, let's discuss what a recession means.
What does a recession mean?
A recession happens when there is a temporary widespread drop in spending. This is because consumers become concerned about the economy or have lost their jobs and means of income.
It is officially defined by economists as a fall in the gross domestic product (GDP) for two consecutive quarters. GDP is how overall economic activity is measured for a country. When a recession is officially declared, it’s usually already been going on for a few months.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators.”
That means recessions can impact a wide variety of industries across the board. Which is why it's important to consider businesses and industries that are recession proof.
What are recession-proof businesses?
Recession-proof businesses are usually in industries that are not severely impacted by a decline in the economy. These industries are usually ones that everyone needs, even when finances are tight.
Businesses in industries that provide staples are the type of businesses that tend to do best when the economy heads south. For example, businesses in homes and vehicle repairs, public services like plumbing and electricity, grocery, etc, all tend to do well.
So, if you’re looking for recession-proof business ideas to switch into, then keep reading to find out which ones have the best chance of riding out an economic storm.
Industries that are recession-proof
Below are some specific industries that are resistant to recessions and are likely to support you even through difficult circumstances.
- Baby products and child care
- Food and drinks, groceries
- Digital Marketing
- Beauty industry
- Funeral services
- Real estate investing
14 Recession-proof businesses to consider
Based on the list of the above recession proof industries, let's go over some actual business ideas. It may surprise you what makes the list of recession proof business ideas.
However, these are products and services that are in demand even during a recession. Here are 14 good businesses to start in a bad economy:
1. Baby products
Baby products are one of the industries that are recession proof. After all, if you have a baby when the recession hits, that’s not going to prevent you from needing diapers and bottles.
Many parents will cut down on their own expenses before they cut back on buying things for their children. While they aren’t totally recession-proof, children's products tend to be recession-resistant.
Parents might not be able to spend hundreds of dollars on toys at Christmas during a tough year, but they will still buy presents. Babies grow fast and constantly need new clothes. And kids will always want a new pair of shoes to wear to school come September.
If you are looking at starting a business that can withstand a recession, then consider something that caters to kids and especially babies.
2. Food and beverage
Food and beverage are also recession proof industries. Because even during a recession, people need to eat. While people may cut back on splurges like eating out at restaurants, they will still splurge on core food staples.
Sales at grocery stores, candy sales, and alcohol sales all tend to increase during a recession.
Why do these recession proof businesses thrive despite money being tight? Because items like chocolate are what a buyer will consider "affordable luxuries" during tough times! So, people will still treat themselves to these items before splurging on a bigger purchase.
For instance, did you know that Snickers Bars were invented during the Great Depression? It shows you how much we crave sugar when our stress levels rise!
Grocery stores are a good sector to be in, as people tend to eat in more. That means they will spend more time on home-cooked meals. And of course, people will always need toothpaste, laundry soap, and other staples no matter the economic situation.
3. Retail consignment
When things get tough, one of the first things people cut down on are new clothes. But that doesn’t mean people want to give up their love of shopping.
Secondhand stores saw a 31% increase in sales during the last recession even as other retailers’ sales dropped. In fact, the thrift store craze stayed after the recession was long gone. Plus, it’s just as popular to buy used clothes as it is to buy new ones.
People also try to save on electronics, jewelry, musical instruments, and more by purchasing them preowned. Retail franchises and other second-hand shops such as pawn shops are good businesses to start in a bad economy.
4. Courier and delivery services
People will always need mail. This is why courier and delivery services are among the top recession-proof businesses. Courier and delivery services tend to be less vulnerable than other sectors to a recession.
Even though sales might decline, there is a need to send packages. And with more and more people turning to buying and selling secondhand online, the need for delivery is likely to rise.
Some businesses might even outsource their courier services needs. So, whether it's raining, the sun is shining, or there is a recession, there is always a need for delivery services.
Remember what I said earlier about baby items being recession-resistant? This is also true for childcare. While it can be difficult for parents to pay for things like daycare costs when budgets get tight, it’s still a necessity for many families, especially when both parents work.
Even if a parent loses a job or has to cut back on hours, they may opt to keep their kids in childcare. There are a lot of benefits for younger children to be in a safe and secure environment, especially when there is a lot of change going on that they might not understand. So childcare services are one of the industries that are recession resistant.
6. Health and senior services
Healthcare and other services for seniors are generally recession resistant. Home care is growing by billions of dollars, and health is a practical and necessary industry even in a recession. If you're looking for good businesses to start in a bad economy, the healthcare industry makes the list.
Demand is likely to continue as more and more people in the Boomer generation reach retirement. Seniors will still need help with basic needs as they get older and that’s unlikely to change when a recession hits.
Even if seniors aren’t living in a care home, they may need to hire a caregiver to help around the house or run errands for them. So basically any industries working with seniors can be great recession proof business ideas!
7. Technology and IT
If anything, quarantines and social distancing have shown that there will be even more demand for technology in the coming years.
Telecommuting and working from home are only likely to get more popular, especially with so many businesses realizing it’s possible and saving on overhead costs like rent.
The popularity of working from home is also likely to increase demand for businesses that cater to IT, as companies everywhere need to spruce up their telecommunications.
Even doctors are turning to technology as they urge patients to call in instead of going to the hospital.
Technology support for at-home services and companies is also becoming recession-proof businesses.
8. Repair services
Even in the best of times, things break down. No matter what, something will always need repair!
During a recession, people may even turn to repairing things instead of buying new things, or at least holding off as much as possible. This is why repair services make the list for good businesses to start in a bad economy.
Companies that focus on repair services for necessary items like auto mechanics, roofers, plumbers, and other home repair businesses are likely to see just as much work during a recession as when times are good.
Automotive services that fine-tune their services to their customer's needs do especially well during a recession compared to companies that are more specialized.
9. Cleaning services
No, I don’t mean home cleaning services are going to rise during a recession. But other areas that are legally required to have cleaning services tend to be recession-proof. Any workplace has to have a cleaner- a bank, office spaces, classrooms, hotels, and lobbies.
Usually, these services are outsourced to a cleaning company. Even if a company has to cut back on its employees, it will still need a cleaner.
Corporate cleaning companies are considered recession-proof businesses because they provide a steady source of income, even when the economy crashes.
10. Accounting services
Accounting services are another sector that will be in demand even when times get tough. In fact, they might be in even more demand during a recession as businesses use their services to find ways to cut down on costs.
Even during a recession, businesses will still need to pay their bills and keep track of payments and revenue. They aren’t likely to get rid of the person who knows the numbers.
If you’re good with math, then turning to financial planning or accounting or opening up a similar company could be one of the best recession proof businesses to start!
11. Freelance services
When a recession hits employers turn to freelancers as an alternative to hiring full-time employees. So, freelancing is one of the best recession proof industries to consider.
That way, you aren't relying on one type of job for all of your income! And you can even start freelancing with no experience.
12. Pet care business
The national pet industry made over $100 billion in sales for the first time in history in 2020! So, pet care and supplies like pet food are shown to be recession proof businesses now.
Another reassuring and heart-warming fact is that 52% of pet owners said more of their money goes towards their pets than themselves!
Vet visits, grooming sessions, and essential pet products can flourish despite facing economic uncertainty. So, consider these areas for recession proof business ideas!
13. Real estate
If you're an investor thinking about recessions, consider real estate investing or property. For example, owning a property that you rent out is still likely to do well in a recession, because people still need places to live, though it isn't a guarantee.
You may also consider REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) that pay dividends. It could make you an income even during uncertain times.
14. Self care and beauty
Surprisingly, self care and beauty make the list for a recession-resistant business. While they aren't necessities, beauty salons are popular even during recessions.
While people are unlikely to spend a large amount of money on beauty items, they will probably spend on affordable things like a manicure or haircuts.
Consider one of these recession-proof businesses for a financially secure future!
These industries that are recession proof offer opportunities during times of economic recession. Although things might be tougher, it's definitely possible to move into a recession-proof career or build a successful recession-proof business during trying times.
Learning how to build a successful business could be how you thrive during a recession. And of course, knowing how to budget and save up cash is also very helpful for tough times. You can learn more about earning money and managing it well from the Clever Girls Know podcast.