What Types of Businesses Do Well in a Recession?

2 years ago 6 minute read
What Types of Businesses Do Well in a Recession?

It’s been 14 years since the Great Recession of 2008, but new recession concerns have started to arise. Consumers and businesses alike have concerns about an impending recession – concerns that started as early as 2014. But does a recession mean that all businesses are doomed? Absolutely not.

In fact, some businesses may even thrive during the recession due to an increase in demand for certain products or services. In this post, we’ll talk about what some of those businesses are so you can decide for yourself whether you should pivot your business accordingly.


Obviously, any roundup post that lists businesses as being “Recession-proof” should be taken with a grain of salt because anything is possible, and sometimes businesses fail despite projections that they won’t. 

All anyone can do is plan for the worst-case scenario, hope for the best, and choose a business type that’s most likely to be in high-demand during a recession. In any case, you should make sure your business plan is rock-solid and that you have cash on-hand to sustain your business even if a recession hits. 

30 Businesses That are “Recession-Proof”

Cafes & Coffee Shops

It’s anticipated that most cafes and coffee shops will be able to weather a recession. Not only do people need to grab their morning fix on-the-go, coffee shops also serve as a convenient place to catch up with friends and take advantage of some free wifi.

In fact, cafes and coffee shops more or less maintained business as usual even during the 2008 recession. In a 2009 article, the journalist explains, “The affordability of the cafe has long been its strongest suit, regardless of the economy. It’s a great spot to have a date, read a book, do work, get a bite to eat,”.

Wine, Liquor & Beer

During a recession, people are likely to cut back on expensive drinking options but that doesn’t mean they stop drinking altogether. Wine, liquor, and beer suppliers can still thrive during a recession; in 2009, sales of wine and bar revenues went down, but wholesale of beer, wine and liquor stayed the same

Movie Theaters

Surprisingly, box office sales went up during the Great Recession and even hit their first all-time high during the Great Depression. Assumably, this is because people are still in need of entertainment (and distraction) during times of stress. Even with the emergence of Netflix and Hulu, people still like an excuse to get out of the house and catch a flick on the big screen.

Accounting & Tax Services

Investopedia predicts that accounting and tax services businesses are likely to stay stable during a recession because people and businesses still have to pay taxes and keep their finances in check. One might assume that business owners would cut costs by doing their own taxes, but many business owners see the value in filing correctly so they can get the best refund possible.

Repair & Maintenance Shops

Though people may not be buying new toys and gadgets during a recession, they’ll likely fix the ones they already got. Auto repair, home repair, and maintenance services will always be in demand. Because things can become damaged at any time, and it’s often more affordable to get it fixed than to replace it. 

Digital Marketing Agencies

Savvy business owners know that a recession is the time to invest in their marketing to get more customers and clients rather than close up shop completely. Those that run online marketing businesses can benefit from other businesses wanting to double-down on their marketing efforts. 

Grocery Stories

Even with farmer’s markets and community gardens, most people are ill-equipped to grow their own food at homes. Grocery stores and grocery delivery services will be essential for the foreseeable future, though people may gravitate toward cheaper products.


Interestingly enough, lipstick is considered to be an “affordable luxury” because people will opt to pay for cosmetics to look good. Over more expensive items (like fancy clothing and shoes). Perhaps people turn to cosmetics as a way to feel good about themselves despite the stress. In fact, nail polish and mascara saw an uptick in sales in 2009.

Fitness & Wellness

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people decided to do their workouts from home. And, we continue to see this as gyms and fitness centres have opened. In fact, at-home workout equipment sales have increased astronomically over the last two years. People may opt out of that monthly gym membership and opt into cheaper online alternatives and one-time purchases of workout equipment.

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Laundry & Dry Cleaning

While most people might picture people washing their clothes at home during the Great Depression. Things are quite different during modern times. Many people don’t have the means or know-how to wash and dry their clothes at home if they don’t have a washing machine. So it’s expected that laundry and dry-cleaning businesses will keep running as usual. 

Water, Sewer & Trash Disposal

Disposing of trash and water/sewer management are still necessary during a recession. So, these types of businesses are unaffected.


Over 60% of married households depend on two incomes, so one parent staying home to handle childcare is becoming less of a possibility (especially for single parents/guardians). Many parents will continue to pay for childcare because the cost is less than what they make at their job. So it’s expected that childcare services will also remain steady during a recession.

Cleaning Services

Similarly, people will continue to pay for cleaning services if they have less time to take care of household duties. Cleaning rates may decrease as demand decreases slightly, but these services will still likely be in demand from both homeowners and businesses.

Health Services

Health clinics, hospitals, and other health-related facilities are always in demand and stay unaffected by a recession. In fact, demand might even increase if people have stress and poverty-related health issues. People will need health services during these hard times.

Baby Products

There are many baby products people are unable to make at home (like bottles and pacifiers), so there will still be a demand for these products. Note that people may opt for cheaper or reusable alternatives, like off-brand products and cloth diapers.

Elder Care Services

As the elderly population grows, there will be an increasing demand for elderly care services. People will always be in need of these services, even during a recession.

Software Development

During a recession, many businesses might have to pivot away from physical goods and start offering digital products and software. Software and app developers can do all of their work online and help businesses create different offers. Developers can work with a wide range of businesses. It’s likely that they will be able to find employment in different industries.

Credit & Debt Relief Services

Unfortunately, many people and businesses will experience financial hardship during a recession. And will need to seek out credit repair and debt relief services. Providers in these sectors will be in high demand and can help people weather these financial problems.

Legal Services

Similarly, crime rates are often correlated with poverty rates. There will certainly be a demand for criminal defense and other types of legal services. Employment attorneys, family law attorneys, and the like will still be able to find clients during a recession, though the market may become more competitive.

Veterinary Services

People don’t usually cut corners when it comes to pet care, so veterinary services will still be in demand as people need to care for their furry friends. In fact, spending in this vertical was one of the few areas that grew during the recession.

Safety & Security

Studies show that crime rates tend to increase (and even double) during a financial downturn. So businesses and homeowners are likely to invest in security services. Home and business security systems, security personnel, and similar services are likely to be in demand.


During a recession, people are concerned about losing their jobs and facing health issues. So they will often get insurance to feel secure. It might be an added cost every month, but this pales in comparison to the costs of paying out of pocket for medical care, auto repairs, etc.


Freelancers can take on contract work as needed, making them super flexible and, typically, financially independent. They can do work such as writing articles, designing logos, offering marketing services, and a wide range of services, all from the comfort of their own home. Freelancing involves very low overhead costs for near infinite income potential.

Information Technology Services

Our society and economy are heavily reliant on computer technology and the internet. So, there will still be a need for IT services to ensure these systems are running smoothly. It is a smart bet to start an IT services company that can operate remotely and serve a wide range of businesses.


An ecommerce business is able to sell products and services online and covers a wide range of niches. Whether you sell shoes, kid’s toys, workout equipment, or cosmetics, you can have a 100% remote business with low overhead. Also, you can also pivot to offer different products that are in high demand.

Hair Salons

People still want to look good, even during a recession, and most of us don’t have the skills to cut our own hair. Assuming there’s no pandemic-induced stay-at-home order in place. Typically, hair salons are still expected to thrive during a recession. Though it may make sense to cater to more affluent clientele. 


People are still very reliant on their phones and internet, especially when it comes to work. We’d expect for related services to still be in demand so people can stay connected and business can continue running smoothly.

Education & E-Learning

With COVID-19, we’ve seen that colleges and schools have remained in session but have opted to go the virtual route. People will still have a need for higher ed and e-learning. This business type may be a safe bet during a recession. Even with schools re-opening, we see a number of schools sticking to virtual learning where they can.

Social Media Services

Like digital marketing, businesses will still need to invest in social media management to attract more customers and clients. If you offer social media services, you can cater to these businesses so you can stay afloat during a recession.

Thrift Stores

People will continue to shop during a downturn, but they might opt for less expensive options. Major retailers may suffer but second-hand shops are likely to thrive. In fact, while only 14% of people shopped at thrift stores in 2008, that number increased to 20% by 2012. It may be smart to get in on the “second-hand economy” ahead of the curve.

Is Your Business Prepared?

Many types of businesses thrive during a recession, some types do better than others. Your prerogative should be to recession-proof your business by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. One of the best ways to prepare is to invest in your marketing early. 
Visitor Queue helps businesses generate more leads, faster, so they can keep their pipeline full. So, if a recession does it, you’ll have a list of leads you can tap into to generate more revenue as quickly as possible. Interested? Start your free trial today.

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Written by

Nick Hollinger | CEO

I am the CEO and Co-founder of Visitor Queue. Currently working with ~5000 companies across the globe including Microsoft and Jones Lang Lasalle. In my spare time, I am also the Game Day Director for one of Canada's most successful Junior Hockey Teams (the London Knights). Previously, I held Head of Marketing/Sales roles at SMB B2B organizations. A strong believer that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. I enjoy sharing my knowledge, experience, and opinion on Marketing, Sales, SaaS, and Entrepreneurship.