COVID-19 and the economy

COVID-19 and the economy

Uncertainty around the future of global economy is at the forefront of concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak, both publically and privately. Those hardest hit will require ongoing support, which is why our people are raising awareness wherever possible, through research and thought-sharing across a variety of mediums.

You can learn more by reading some of our research articles and think pieces, available at the links below.

Fashion and retail

How the luxury fashion industry can build back better after COVID-19

The British School of Fashions's Professor Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas explored marketing and sustainable innovation in the wake of the pandemic in the latest in the Resilience and Reconstruction Speaker Series of talks presented by The Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC)

Professor Radclyffe-Thomas discussed how disrupted supply chains, financial instability and travel restrictions have derailed the fashion industry's projected growth and, while lockdown has had a positive effect on the environment, industry watchers fear its previous commitments to responsible business and sustainability could be lost. She looked at innovation as a core attribute of luxury fashion brands and examined examples of marketing strategy and sustainable innovation in the luxury fashion sector as it works to build back better.

Marketing during COVID-19

The latest in the Resilience and Reconstruction Speaker Series of talks presented by The Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC) explored how branding and marketing professionals are responding to COVID-19. 

Lucien Etori, Executive Strategy Director at R/GA, and strategy and marketing expert Prasan Kumar discussed how brands and marketers are responding to changes in how consumers use media and make decisions. They looked at historical global crisis, the macro economic landscape and consumer intentions to better understand how marketers can succeed in a pandemic.

Ethical fashion brands that can make a difference

Dr Elaine Ritch, Glasgow School of Business & Society has written for the i newspaper on 12 June 2020 on ‘The ethical fashion brands that can help us to make a difference'.  The global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the fashion industry, further impacting on those who are allegedly exploited within supply chain management.  Some fashion businesses have responded by supporting efforts to manage the pandemic, illustrating the potential for the fashion industry to reconsider practice and address sustainability. 

Impact of COVID-19 on the UK retail sector

Dr Cara Connell from the Department of Fashion, Marketing, Tourism and Events provided an analysis for The Herald on Sunday 15 June 2020 on the impact that COVID-19 has had on the UK retail sector.  The major challenges facing the retail sector were highlighted as well as the steps being taken to address these. Importantly, potential areas for future growth and recovery were identified.  

Recovery from recession

COVID-19 drives African families to financial desperation

The financial impact of COVID-19 drove many of the poorest African families in Scotland to "economic desperation", claims a new study.

Around 68% either lost their jobs and savings or were unable to afford food and had to rely on family and friends to cover living expenses, according to research.

Almost half of those who took part in the survey into the socio-economic impact of the pandemic said they were willing to risk contracting the virus to provide for their families.

Around 330 Africans living across Scotland took part in the study, which was carried out by the community interest company Diaspora African Women Support Network (DAWSUN), with the support of the African Council and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

Dr Chioma Nwafor, lecturer in financial services at GCU and convenor of the DAWSUN, said: "The pandemic amplified the financial struggles of most African families and drove some of them to the point of economic desperation. 

"It is easy to see that inequalities already present in our society have worsened over the last 18 months. 

"Every community faces different challenges, so we need local solutions to the pre-existing ethnic disadvantages exacerbated by the pandemic."

Living in overcrowded conditions exposed many African families to a greater risk of contracting the virus, the research found.

Around 60% of the respondents lived in flats, with an average of two adults and three children in three sleeping rooms.

Pressure from low-pay and insecure work was also highlighted. Figures show even though 80% of respondents held either a graduate or postgraduate degree, only 13% earned between £20,000-£26,000 at the start of the pandemic, with 18% averaging between £7000-£12,000.

More than one in three, 36%, had no savings, and 24% had between £0 to £100 saved at the start of lockdown.

DAWSUN, which provides training, mentoring and support for migrants, asylum seekers, and individuals with English as a second language, is calling on pandemic recovery plans to focus on vulnerable groups, particularly those with no recourse to public funds.

Dr Nwafor added: "The pandemic has brought to the forefront longstanding structural disadvantages; from overrepresentation in low-wage jobs to severe personal debt burden and weak financial resilience.

"By shedding light on the situation of a group that has traditionally been on the fringes of society, we hope this report makes a pivotal contribution to the government's vision for inclusive and fairer Scotland."

COVID-19's impact on sustainable investing

COVID-19's impact on sustainable investing was explored in the latest Resilience and Reconstruction series of talks from GCNYC's Center for Social Impact and Innovation on 25 March 2021.

A panel discussed the growth in sustainable investment throughout the pandemic on March 25 at 4pm.

Amisha Parekh, Product Manager of Sustainable Financial Solutions at Bloomberg and an adjunct faculty member at GCNYC, chaired the discussion with Jessica Huang, Blackrock's Head of Americas Sustainable Investing Solutions, Carole Laible, CEO of Domini Impact Investments, and Kathryn McDonald, Co-Founder and Head of Investments and Sustainability at RADIANT ESG. 

They explored the acceleration of sustainable investment throughout the pandemic and discussed the financial market's attempts to address global issues such as climate change, human rights, and access to health care.

Scotland's cities face longer recovery from lockdown

City centre hotels are most at risk from closure and will take longer to recover post-lockdown as tourists opt for rural destinations, experts have warned.

The Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University is providing hospitality data and policy advice to the Scottish Government as the industry maps out its recovery plans.

Data from mid-July to October last year shows self-catering accommodation in rural destinations boomed but hotel occupancy rates in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen remained low.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre, said: "Hotels carry such high fixed costs, that unless you have the same volume of revenue coming through you can only continue for a couple of months, even with furlough.  We saw some very peculiar patterns in Scottish tourism last year - a reverse of traditional demand.  The second wave makes it very tough. Few businesses can endure a whole year of negative trading.  There is hope though, people have money saved up and the demand is still there. People will want to go on holiday but international travel will be more difficult because of access.  It will be really interesting to see if the same patterns emerge when restrictions are eased this time."

Professor Yunus discusses Common Good and COVID-19

Chancellor Emeritus Professor Muhammad Yunus discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the Common Good as part of the Resilience and Reconstruction Speaker series presented by The Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC) on 3 December 2020.

Professor Yunus drew on his recent masterclass in which he discussed the opportunities for change that could be created in a post-pandemic world.

In No Going Back – Post Corona Reconstruction Programme, global anti-poverty campaigner, Nobel Laureate and Founder of the Grameen Bank, Professor Yunus discussed how "Despite the massive damage it has caused, the pandemic offers unparalleled opportunities and audacious possibilities that never existed before".

Recovery from the COVID-19 economic recession

A 'bounce-back' fund needs to be set up to help businesses around the North Coast 500 recover from the COVID-19 economic recession.  Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart was inspired by a study by the Moffat Centre for Tourism at GCU which found that the route had boosted the north Highland economy by more than £22million over 12 months.  The article appeared in the Ross-shire Journal on 13 August 2020.

Financial support for vulnerable families

Dr Olga Biosca and Professor Cam Donaldson were joint signatories in a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, coordinated by Responsible Finance, calling for support for financial support for vulnerable families.  Research by GCU’s Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health was quoted in the letter.  The response, from Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, John Glen MP, stated that the work conducted on behalf of the most financially vulnerable is recognised, but that additional hardship funding would not be committed for the time being.  However, No-Interest Loan Scheme asked for was committed to, but without a timeline.


No staycation boom for Scotland's visitor attractions

The latest survey of Scotland's visitor attractions has revealed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the sector – and it has seen no evidence of a ‘staycation boom’.

Data from the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Development at GCU shows less than half of the sector, 48.1%, is currently fully open and more than one in ten attractions remain closed. 

A further 40.9% are operating with reduced hours or limited facilities because of the impacts of both the pandemic and Brexit.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre at GCU, said: "Tourism like many other industries in Scotland has been hugely impacted by the loss of EU workers as a direct consequence of Brexit. 

“The ability to adequately and safely staff operations has become the next insurmountable challenge.”

Around 180 organisations, which operate 353 individual attractions, took part in the survey, conducted on behalf of ASVA: Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions.

It’s the first survey of attractions since the majority of restrictions were lifted across the country and Scotland moved to ‘beyond Level 0’.

Figures show more than a third of attractions are not currently operating at an economically sustainable level and turnover is down by over 50% at over a third of attractions (35.8%) this year when compared to the same period in 2019. 

Gordon Morrison, chief executive of ASVA said: “The pandemic has had a truly devastating impact on Scotland’s visitor attractions and these latest results provide further evidence that this impact is still very much being felt. 

“I cannot emphasise strongly enough that there’s been no ‘staycation boom’ or widespread economic recovery for our sector this year, and we face a very challenging winter period ahead.”‚Äč

Staycationers urged to help Scottish visitor attractions recover from COVID-19 crisis

New figures have revealed the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Scotland's visitor attractions.  

Overall visitor numbers slumped by almost 34 million in 2020, a fall of 63.2%, with 153 sites closed for the full 12 months, according to data from the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University. 

Edinburgh Castle - Scotland's busiest paid-for attraction in 2019 - saw visitor numbers drop by 87.2% with figures for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, in Glasgow, and the National Museum of Scotland falling 85.8% and 79.9% respectively.  

Data from the Moffat Centre's Scottish Visitor Attraction Monitor 2020 shows attractions with large outdoor areas outperformed museums/art galleries and castles.  

Edinburgh Zoo was Scotland's busiest paid-for site last year, attracting 292,631 visitors, a drop of 46.4% on the previous 12 months. Culloden Visitor Centre attracted 182,496 visitors as it recorded battlefield-only visits for the first time and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was the most popular free site with 452,479 visits.

The Scottish Visitor Attraction Monitor shows the overall number of visits dropped from 53,722,691 in 2019 to 19,785,282, across 638 sites.

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre at GCU, said: "The impact of COVID-19 was felt across all aspects of the Scottish visitor attractions sector as travel was restricted, the international market collapsed and the wider economy was impacted.

“Attractions are an essential element of the Scottish visitor experience. With international tourism unlikely to return until well into 2022, domestic visitors will provide the sole source of income. Their custom will be vital going forward.”


Survey reveals impact of social distancing on visitor attractions

Visitor attractions will need financial help to survive, for as long as physical distancing measures are in place, according to a new survey.  Research carried out by the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University has found that 85% of attractions believe that reopening with two metre distancing would impact on their ability to operate at an economically sustainable level.

Just under 60% of operators said the introduction of a government-led scheme similar to Eat Out to Help Out would be beneficial to attract domestic visitors back to venues.  The sharp decline in international visitors this year is expected to have a major impact. Almost 20% of attractions are anticipating a drop in turnover of more than 50% this year as a result.

More than 200 sites took part in the survey, commissioned by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), in February and early March.  Members are calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to provide new grant support to the industry, reduce physical distancing restrictions, and increase funding for national marketing targeted the domestic audience.

Review on visitor attraction recovery

GCU's Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism has published a review on visitor attraction recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.  Glasgow Caledonian University Release Visitor Attraction Survey following COVID-19.

The Centre has provided the only monthly data source of national accommodation and visitor attraction performance during 2020 since the advent of COVID-19. The centre has been able to provide detailed analysis on particular sectors such as; the Night Time Economy and Heritage Attraction Sectors. Data and related analysis has been supplied to; the Scottish Government, Scottish Tourist Alliance, Scottish Tourism Emergency Recovery Group and VisitScotland.

Fear of survival amongst Scotland's ethical tourist firms

Also in the press in Thomson Reuters on 20 May 2020, Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre, contributed to a piece on fear of survival amongst Scotland’s ethical tourist firms.


Research at GCU

Research is instrumental in tackling society’s biggest problems. The health, social and economic challenges uncovered by COVID-19 brings into sharp focus our commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all.

Sustainable Development Goals

These global goals reflect our ethos as the University for the Common Good and our mission to make a positive difference to the communities we serve. Read our institutional research strategy to find out more about our commitment to the SDGs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.

The icons below show which of the 17 SDGs we aim to impact through the research above.