Why this Silicon Valley CEO is hopeful of a post-COVID ‘roaring twenties’

The chief executive of international retail giant Poshmark is optimistic of a ‘roaring twenties’ style surge in economic activity for Australia and the rest of the world despite ongoing lockdowns and surges in COVID cases.

Manish Chandra, who heads up the $4.1 billion Nasdaq-listed company, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald early signs from highly vaccinated populations such as the US were pointing to a post-COVID boom akin to the early 1900s postwar period.

Manish Chandra, chief executive of Poshmark, is hopeful of a booming post-COVID recovery.

“Assuming the trend and trajectory we’re seeing in the US continues … we’re starting to see what I think is sort of a roaring twenties,” Mr Chandra said. “There’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, a lot of spending that is happening, and that wave will make its way across the world as places heal and get vaccinated.

“It feels like it’ll be a positive renaissance as these things happen, and we’ll be able to overcome some of these road bumps of Delta.”

Poshmark has about 80 million users and operates predominantly in the second-hand fashion space, allowing users to buy and sell used clothes via the company’s marketplace. The company operates in the US, Canada and locally, with Mr Chandra saying each geography was in different stages of recovery from the pandemic.

The US executive’s comments come as retailers in Australia are buckling down for a tough period, with the country’s largest economy, NSW, set to remain in lockdown for another four months.

Equity strategist for Citi James Wang told clients on Wednesday retailers would likely exhibit “significant uncertainty” in their forecasts at the August reporting season, with lockdowns set to weigh on sales.

“We think the lockdowns will constrain demand despite positive underlying factors supporting latent demand,” he said. Goldman Sachs analysts have also warned the lockdowns could wipe 2.4 points off the country’s GDP growth for the quarter.

However, online retailers such as Poshmark are unlikely to experience such declines. The Silicon Valley-based business reported a 42 per cent increase in sales for the first three months of the year, aided by a COVID-induced boom in the second-hand fashion market.

The rise of social media and online shopping has seen the used clothes market grow steadily in recent years, but the pandemic created somewhat of a perfect storm, Mr Chandra said.

“COVID disrupted supply chains so people had to shop each other’s wardrobes because there was no new stuff available out there,” he said. “More people also became sellers during the pandemic because they’re at home, and they were either looking for income or had more time.”

Mr Chandra sees platforms like Poshmark filling a gap left by the demise of department stores globally, providing users with the range, convenience and personal connection those retailers once did.

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