You have probably been reading and hearing the term “new normal” a lot lately. Wikipedia indicates that “new normal” became popular as a business term to describe the financial conditions following the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Today, the term is frequently used to describe the period following the COVID-19 pandemic – specifically, as we emerge from shelter-in-place restrictions. It references the social and economic changes that will impact most of us moving forward.
But what can we expect from this “new normal”?
Clean is the new green – we’ve learned since childhood that cleanliness prevents illness and that message was abundantly clear as COVID-19 spread across the globe. Experts agree that simple precautions such as sneezing and coughing into your elbow, frequent hand washing, and cleaning frequently used surfaces will continue as areas of focus. Consumers may even be even more critical of business cleanliness when they decide which restaurant or hotel to use. Some like immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci think this may even be the end of the handshake.
Age in place, but with a little more space – it’s possible that retirees who had been considering downsizing to age in place may be rethinking that strategy in the new normal. Smaller condominiums or apartments which offered a little cost savings may be viewed as undesirable due to density of population in those structures. That also extends to the location, as less populated rural settings are being viewed as more attractive over urban or even suburban settings.
“Economic Darwinism” for some but a rebirth for others – Economic Darwinism is the concept that there will be an economic elimination of antiquated industries. For example, while many have been holding onto their paper magazine or newspaper subscription, that option may be a little closer to extinction. Though digital media also has expense limitations, it is far more cost effective in the new normal. Another casualty may be the buffet restaurant as diners steer clear of exposure to multiple hands. And though the neighborhood multiplex theater may be closed, many areas are seeing new interest in drive-in movies which provide built-in social distancing.
Staying home or the new travel – as sheltering restrictions are lifted, we have the opportunity to venture out. But will we? And, if we do, what will that look like? Cruise lines are still grounded, and most expect to stay that way until late July or August. Rental shares like Airbnb are being overlooked in favor of hotels with more rigorous cleaning protocols. Given all that, many are simply choosing to stay home. In fact, home goods stores are reporting significant growth as homeowners try to fix their place up.
One thing we know for sure right now is that things are changing. And they may change again with the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter. Fortunately, medical professional are working on treatments and vaccines, but that could take months or even years.
If you are a planner like us, you probably already know that we’re not going back to the way things were. And you might feel a little frustrated by the speed of change as we begin our entrance into the post COVID-19 era. But we can focus on our lessons learned to protect ourselves and our loved ones. It’s a bold New Normal, but we’re up to the task!