Already across Europe, we are seeing many countries temporarily shut down their schools as large parts of society go into lock-down. Schools across England and the UK are set close from the end of this week, and this follows a number of European countries that have already closed their schools including Italy, Spain, Ireland and Belgium.
The Australian government has recently announced that for the time being, Australian public schools will remain open.
However, despite the government decision, a number of Australian private schools have already made the move to temporarily close and have their students work from home. Pymble Ladies College and Knox Grammar School in Sydney are among a number of private schools that have moved classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
More are expected to follow in the weeks ahead, and it is quite possible that all schools in Australia will be closed at some stage temporarily if the situation worsens.
Australia’s university and higher education sector may also be forced to temporarily close and have all students work remotely.
While many Australian companies will likely suffer, which ASX shares could potentially benefit?
ASX telco providers such as Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS), Optus, Vodafone Hutchison Telecommunications (Aus) Ltd (ASX: HTA) and TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM) could all potentially benefit from an increase in broadband usage as children continue their studies via online means.
Additionally, more employees will be working from home which will also see a rise in the usage of home broadband. If their children are forced to stay home, this will only see these numbers rising further. Telstra, for example, has told all of its Australian-based office staff that can do so, to work from home until at least the end of the month.
Essential food item providers
Supermarket chains such as Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW), Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL) and Metcash Limited (ASX: MTS) have already seen high demand in a range of stock including personal hygiene products such as toilet paper and hand sanitisers, as well as long-life products such as pasta, rice and milk powder.
As more children study from home, and parents are forced to stay home to mind them, more families will be eating and cooking their meals at home, which will require higher than normal amounts of food and other items purchased from supermarkets.
Essential education items
Purchases of equipment and other supplies are likely to see increased demand for remote learning requirements. This could include items such as office stationery, benefiting companies like Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) which owns Officeworks.
Today, Wesfarmers announced that in recent weeks, Kmart and Officeworks continue to see strong sales growth and in particular, there has been strong growth in its online sales segment.
Meanwhile, companies such as JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) could see increased demand for laptops.
Home delivery of takeaway food is also likely to increase, benefiting companies such as Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd. (ASX: DMP). Dominos, in particular, has a highly developed home delivery service via its app and is prepared to move to 100% zero contact ordering and home delivery in the near future.
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Motley Fool contributor Phil Harpur owns shares of A2 Milk, Domino's Pizza Enterprises Limited, and Telstra Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Telstra Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of A2 Milk and Wesfarmers Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended BUBS AUST FPO, Domino's Pizza Enterprises Limited, and Freedom Foods Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.