07 Sep 2020 20:26 IST

Trump needs to make his business great again

The pandemic has only aggrevated the falling revenues of his real-estate ventures since he became President

Donald Trump could have his work cut out for him if he fails in his re-election bid in November. The US president can return to his real-estate ventures, but revenue has fallen off since he entered the White House. The pandemic has made it worse.

Trump’s self-promotion as a successful businessman helped woo voters in 2016. The Trump Organisation, which although run by his two eldest sons is still owned by the president, includes hotels, golf courses and condos. But discord following the 2016 election and Trump’s inauguration early the next year took a toll.

A 2017 Simmons Research poll showed about half of Americans were less likely to use a product or service if it was endorsed by Trump. His biggest revenue generator, a golf resort in Doral, Florida, saw annual sales drop by 35 per cent from 2016 to 2017 and the top line has remained largely flat since then to reach $77 million in 2019, according to financial disclosures. Sales were down at other properties in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia, too. By comparison, annual revenue rose by 36 per cent at hotel group Marriott International from 2016 to 2019.

Business has plunged by more than 40 per cent in that period at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to revenue of $21 million in 2019. Sales at his hotel in Washington, D.C., where the president and his aides often dine, ramped up after it opened in 2016 but have stagnated since. For Trump-branded condos, Redfin estimated in December that the median sale price dropped by 16 per cent in the years following the 2016 election, while mentions of the Trump name fell in online listings.

This year, the pandemic has hit the hospitality and real estate industries hard. The Trump Organisation had to close properties in Florida and elsewhere, while others are at a fraction of their capacity.

In polls, Trump has recently somewhat narrowed the gap with Democratic rival Joe Biden. If the president loses, though, his showmanship could be useful in trying to reinvigorate his business, assuming he doesn’t instead wind up as a media mogul. But there would be one problem. Trump the candidate once famously said he’d win so much as commander-in-chief that Americans would be sick of winning. A company built on that reputation would lack its usual pitch.

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