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The following list comprises the most distressed industries in the US economy, curated using IBISWorld’s proprietary database. The industries are ranked by the fastest anticipated annualized rate of decline in the number of industry enterprises over the five years to 2020. Operators in most of these industries contend with mounting pressure from disruptive technologies, overseas competition and shifting economic forces. In turn, a pronounced number of companies in each industry have opted to consolidate or end operations entirely. This cursory overview of IBISWorld’s Top 8 Most Distressed Industries demonstrates the qualitative and quantitative application of IBISWorld’s research reports for investors.


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DVD, Game & Video Rental Industry

Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -15.1%

IBISWorld expects operators in the DVD, Game and Video Rental industry to experience the greatest number of business closures of any industry within the economy over the next five years. Companies within this industry have been pummeled by competition from rental kiosks, mail-order subscriptions and the growing popularity of streaming media. In the five years to 2020, industry revenue is forecast to plunge at an annualized 20.2% to $999.7 million. This represents a fourfold decline from 2015 levels and a tenfold decline from prerecessionary levels.


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Solar Panel Manufacturing Industry

Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -8.9%

IBISWorld expects the Solar Panel Manufacturing industry to have the second-largest number of business closures over the next five years. Low coal and gas prices have made conventional energy more competitive alternatives to solar energy. Moreover, the flood of low-cost solar panels from China has wreaked havoc on US manufacturers in both the domestic and international markets. In the five years to 2020, industry revenue is forecast to plunge at an annualized 11.0% to $521.3 million.

Apparel Knitting Mills Industry

Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -7.1%

Operators in the Apparel Knitting Mills industry will experience tough operating conditions in the next five years. While product development opportunities exist for knit apparel in general, US mills cannot fully take advantage of them because the majority of apparel production is outsourced to low labor-cost countries in Asia and South America. New products can be manufactured more affordably overseas, undercutting the benefit of producing in the United States. Additionally, domestic demand for US-made knits is diminishing because retailers and consumers prefer to purchase low-priced imports rather than higher-priced US goods. As a result, less competitive knitting mills will close shop over the next five years amid heightened competition from overseas producers.

Recordable Media Manufacturing Industry

Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -6.2%

The Recordable Media Manufacturing industry produces and mass-replicates optical and magnetic media, such as discs and tapes. Industry revenue and profit have declined as more consumers have chosen circuit board-based and solid-state technologies, such as USB (Universal Serial Bus) drives or hard drives. In light of on-demand media, such as online streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, physical discs are becoming increasingly outdated; this shift in demand toward alternative technologies, combined with the increased availability of on-demand content through cable and satellite television offerings and broadband internet connections, will substantially decrease demand for nearly all industry products during the next five-year period.

Photofinishing industry

Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -5.5%

The Photofinishing industry primarily develops digital images to produce customized prints, albums and other merchandise like playing cards or mugs. Falling digital camera prices and the prevalence of built-in cameras on internet-connected mobile devices will result in increased online photo sharing at the expense of paper prints. The widespread adoption of photo-sharing technologies is changing how consumers treat photos, reducing demand for traditional photofinishing services. Technologically, the industry is limited in its capacity to grow, making changes in the industry mostly superficial. As a result, the industry will undergo a continued contraction as operators exit in favor of online platforms.

Mail Order Industry
Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -5.3%

Accelerating technology adoption and e-commerce will continue to pressure the mail-order business over the next five years, leading to protracted revenue declines among mail-order operators. As consumers opt for more convenient online purchases, demand for mail orders is sliding, and operators will need to find a new place in an evolving consumer market. In the five years to 2020, industry revenue is projected to decline at an annualized rate of 3.0% to $6.0 billion. Price pressures will also lead to slimmer profit margins during the period.

Computer Peripheral Manufacturing Industry
Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -4.5%

A number of factors have contributed to the decline of the Computer Peripheral Manufacturing industry, including lower and lower price points and intense foreign competition that employ lower production costs. These factors will be somewhat offset by greater technological adoption among US consumers, which, coupled with rising disposable income, will bolster demand for peripheral products during the next five years. Despite this, a significant portion of computer peripherals will likely be manufactured in low labor-cost countries like China and Mexico. An appreciating dollar will increase US purchasing power over the next five years, further contributing to high import growth.

Database and Directory Publishing Industry
Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -4.1%

An increasingly digital and targeted advertising environment will continue to challenge operators in the Database and Directory Publishing industry. Advertising expenditure is typically tied to corporate profit, although greater media fragmentation has prompted advertisers to move away from traditional mediums and into new outlets and channels. As a result, print directories have suffered from a consistent decline in revenue. In addition to lower profit and revenue during the next five years, IBISWorld expects industry consolidation, as established publishers acquire smaller operators to remain relevant.

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