The Bounce: How High? How Long?
The 2021 we’ve all been waiting for has not yet begun.
I was reminded of this when I received a meme from a friend. It said, “Omg, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when YOU get the vaccine shot?? You’re gonna go back home, wait a month, get your second shot, go back home, wait 14 days for antibodies, then keep wearing a mask and social distancing until community transmission reduction. That’s what.”
When it finally gets here, the 2021 we’ve been waiting for will be different than 2020, but in what way, I cannot say.
Many of us made adjustments in 2020:
Working from home replaced going to the office.
Online meetings replaced face-to-face meetings.
Home delivery replaced driving to the store.
Fancy meals at home replaced eating out.
Will some of these adjustments stay with us?
And if so, to what degree and among how many people?
There will doubtless be a pent-up demand for travel. Will we resume traveling as we did before, or will some of us be reluctant? How high will our travel-hunger bounce the airlines, the cruise ships, and the hotels? And how long will this bounce last?
Our hunger for the hospitality of restaurants, cafes and bars will doubtless shoot those businesses to new heights, but how long will this bounce last? Will home delivery of products, groceries and meals continue at dramatically high levels, or will it fall back to where it was before, or will it land somewhere in-between?
Unable to spend our money on vacations, travel, and fine dining in 2020, we showered jewelry stores and home service businesses with fountains of cash. Will this trend continue, or will we redirect these fountains of affection onto new categories of purchase?
I honestly do not know.
The only prediction I am prepared to make is that a lot of office space is going to remain empty.
Day after day I speak with employers who rave with delight about the productivity of their people working from home. Without exception, every one of them has told me they do not plan to renew the lease on their office space. A number of these employers previously housed more than 500 office workers each.
That’s a lot of office space.
As a boy, I was friendly with a number of adults who had lived through the Great Depression. Thirty years after the Depression was over, those people continued to bear its marks.
How many of us will bear the marks of the 2020 lockdown long after Covid-19 has been tamed? We can only guess. But the events of 2020 will affect consumer behavior for many years to come.
It will be a fascinating – and important – thing to watch.
Roy H. Williams