Monday, May 4, 2020

How Our Lives Might Be Different in the New Coronavirus World

Our "sheltering at home" lives may become more normal than we ever envisioned as the race for a cure, for a vaccine may take much longer than we want.  We have never found a vaccine that works for HIV, for example.  And if we find a vaccine, how long will it take to produce it and then get it out to billions of people?  

So whether you like it or not, our current situation could be the new normal for possibly years to come.  Or at the very least, social distancing may need to become embedded in our DNA.  So what might that look like?

1) Much less travel
I can't imagine anyone wanting to travel for pleasure in close quarters for a very long time.  No cruises, no long trips via air.  A vacation may be a trip to a large nice hotel, by car, that's big enough to warrant social distancing.  The Homestead here in Virginia, for example, or the The Greenbrier in West Virginia, might be much more popular.  You can golf, play tennis, ride, ski, and swim at these grand old hotels.  When it's safe I am there.

2) Shopping Online is the New Normal
Retail bricks and mortar may finally be dead and those stores like J Crew and Neiman Marcus that were on life support anyway may no longer be with us. Triple Crown Custom, a vendor in the horse space, recently announced it was closing it's doors.  If you are a small retailer, get that website up and quick.  Or perhaps smaller boutique firms will cater to one-on-one shopping to entice customers to their small quiet stores.  All those ugly strip malls will need to be repurposed.  Commercial real estate may take a huge hit as stores go online or set up shop in quaint downtown areas.

3) Eating at Home is the New Normal
We've not had a meal outside of the house since very early March, even a drive-through and that's not going to change for us. Gather your inner cooking skills and make the best of learning how to cook.  Or use one of the food services, that delivers, to mix it up a bit.  Restaurants are going to suffer and many will not survive the new normal.  We are trying one out starting next week.  Blue Apron, Home Chef and many others are going to do very well in the next few years.

4) Working From Home is the New Normal
Fix up that home office!  We are all going to be spending a lot more time there. Companies are learning that telecommuting works for many people.  And think of how much they'll save in real estate costs.

5) Living With More Space - Farms Become Popular
Living in large closely populated cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and others may become much less popular in the years ahead.  The advantages of being in these cities - the great museums, the restaurants, Broadway shows, great shopping - may be much more of a disadvantage going forward due to crowding and reliance on public transportation.  While Realtors tell me people today have no appetite for farms (too much work and upkeep) this may change.  

6) Dressing Becomes Super Casual for Good
This is a trend I am not happy to see.  Americans are not fond of dressing up and this trend should continue.  But if you are not going out, who needs dress-up clothes?  Retailers will need to adjust to the new normal as well. 

7) We Do With Much Less Overall
There will be a big reset with regard to all that "stuff" we seem to collect. Do we need it?  Can we afford it?  Can the planet survive at our current level of consumerism?  We can all buy less, eat less, drive less, and use less.  Our planet and our visa will thank us!

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