Economists are always debating, but they are pretty much in agreement about where the economy is heading. The COVID-19 pandemic is going to result in a recession, and the debates taking place now are mostly about how long we'll be in a funk and how deep the setback will take us.

Investors need to be prepared for the slowdown. Some stocks will fare better in a recession than others, and I like The RealReal (NASDAQ:REAL), Teladoc (NYSE:TDOC), and Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU). Let's go over why I think these are three stocks that can keep growing through the economic downturn.

A businessman stands on a descending stock line.

Image source: Getty Images.

The RealReal

If you're going through your closet for stuff to sell -- a popular pastime in today's climate at the intersection of spring cleaning and inevitable recession -- you may be heartened to know that the secondhand apparel market is expected to be a $50 billion market by 2023. Companies like ThredUp and Poshmark are cashing in on the trend, but if you're willing to travel a bit more upmarket for consigned goods, you may like what you see in The RealReal.

The RealReal's online platform trades secondhand high-end apparel and vintage merchandise. What makes the platform stand out -- and gives it its name -- is that it verifies the authenticity of all of the luxury goods it sells. It's a step that may not seem necessary for ThredUp and Poshmark as they dress the masses, but it's different in the world of luxury goods where counterfeits are everywhere.

The RealReal has been a dud since going public at $20 last year, even though its growth has lived up to the hype. Revenue soared 57% in its latest quarter. Unlike traditional marketplaces that collect slivers of successful transactions, the take rate at The RealReal is a hearty 36% of the sale. Sellers win because they can unload their high-end items quickly, and buyers come out ahead because they are still getting a great deal.  


We've seen Teladoc shine through the coronavirus crisis. The telehealth leader is one of 2020's hottest stocks, up 89% this year through Tuesday's market close. It should also continue to shine as a recession-resistant winner. 

Healthcare is a global necessity, and Teladoc provides convenient and affordable online access to medical and behavioral professionals for a growing number of consultation needs. Revenue growth slowed to 24% in the fourth quarter of last year, but Teladoc has said that it's experiencing an understandable uptick in activity since stay-at-home orders have become the new normal. 

Most people have never had a telemedicine consultation. Even though Teladoc is now available to 36.7 million members through existing plans, it was only requested for 4.1 million virtual visits in 2019. It's easy to see how the tide is turning though, especially as Teladoc is cost-effective and accessible.


There aren't too many models as recession-resistant as Roku. It is free to the nearly 40 million active users it was entertaining at the start of this month. The devices it sells are cheap, and it's becoming the built-in operating system of choice for folks buying smart televisions. 

We're obviously spending a lot of time now streaming in front of the television, and engagement has never been higher for Roku. A recession would only grow Roku's reach, as the unemployed spend more time at home and those fortunate enough to work are probably going to be more hungry for streaming video as entertainment.  

You probably have enough to worry about when it comes to inbound recession. Your portfolio shouldn't have to have to the same concern.  

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.