It’s no secret that 2020, and now 2021, will be a breakpoint of sorts between life as we knew it and life as it will be moving forward after the pandemic’s grip loosens on society. These fascinating infographics from Visual Capitalist lay out five significant trends that have accelerated due to external pressures the pandemic has caused, from shopping trends to mobile device usage and more.
Trend 1: Screens Monopolize Our Time
It is no secret that the rise of smartphones has meant a corresponding rise in screen time, but what is surprising is how much of a jump there’s been in a short period. Between 2008 and 2018, mobile screen time has gone from .3 hours per day to 3.6 hours per day — a growth of 12x previous usage.
The pandemic has sped up this growth for young people, as 44% of people under 18 now spend more than four hours a day in front of a screen — much of which is in front of a video game console. Game makers saw massive growth in 2020.
With so many folks mandated to spend time at home, it’s no surprise that peak internet traffic has exploded to levels never before seen. The expectation is that usage levels will never return to pre-pandemic levels since many companies will have some type of work-from-home or hybrid scheduling for employees.
Trend 2: The Consumer Economy Has Changed In Many Ways
We’ve touched on it in several articles here, such as Adapting Your Business model to 2020’s Holiday Shopping Trends. It is important to note that now that consumers have experienced contactless purchasing — from shopping to buying to delivery — they will never make a full return to the old ways of doing business. Sure, several industries won’t necessarily see atmospheric growth, but consumers have moved to digital wallets and stopped paying with cash so often. This trend will likely continue to accelerate, which means cashiers will slowly fade away from the economy and remove many entry-level jobs.
Amazon, “the world’s department store,” has had a massive effect on shopping habits. The company’s enormous revenue growth has made Jeffrey Bezos into one of the world’s most wealthy men, but more importantly, it has turned the online shopping world on its ear. Consumers have come to expect ordered items to show up at their door in just a day or two — or, depending upon location and time of order placement, the very same day. Not only does this make it simple for the consumer to make a purchase, but they also don’t have to leave home to do it, and the goods they have ordered are often not available locally.
E-commerce is gaining ground quickly in its bid to take over the shopping landscape. The advantages of reduced (or nonexistent) retail footprints are many, and companies looking to maximize profits will undoubtedly continue to pursue this growth as quickly as possible. The forecast for e-commerce growth changed drastically in 2020.
Trend 3: Have We Reached Peak Globalization?
Until 2008, global trade volume was growing at a steady pace, but it has remained mostly flat since then.
The interesting thing about globalization, though, is that it’s not just a trade of physical items or people moving about from one country to another — it also includes information and services. And that metric keeps on rising, dwarfing the other three measurements that are measured to determine how globalization is progressing.
The dip that occurred in merchandise trade in 2020 appears to be nearly identical to that of the Great Recession. But we should also consider whether this dip results from decreased demand or lockdowns preventing companies from manufacturing and delivering their goods to market.
Trend 4: Money Flowing To The Top
Based on the above information about Amazon’s revenue growth and Jeff Bezos’ resulting riches, it is no secret that other uber-wealthy people are also doing quite well in the wake of the pandemic.
But for most Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial individuals, the pandemic has had a major and minor impact on earnings inversely related to age. It is unsurprising to see the most impact on the younger generation, which is more likely to be unsettled in terms of career stability and possibly working in industries that are hardest-hit by pandemic restrictions.
Trend 5: Expect Flexible Working Conditions To Continue
Until the pandemic hit, most companies didn’t have any type of real work-from-home policy or had aligned themselves entirely against the idea. Managers and executives preferred to have their direct reports close by for meetings and other unplanned discussions. The pandemic has changed that perspective, likely forever.
Employees have demonstrated the capability to juggle many tasks — working from home, juggling parent duties, videoconferencing classes for their children, and taking care of ill family members — while removing the stress and strain of commuting from their lives. The vast majority have expressed a desire to continue with the current situation. And executives have seen the benefits of permitting the practice; although there are real challenges, the benefits appear to outweigh them at this time.
One of the major changes concerns what employees will do given flexibility. The sheer volume of people moving away from major urban centers to more-remote, slower-pace-of-life, less-congested areas is massive at this time. Along with the move to fewer workers in physical locations comes a two-fold issue: empty urban real estate and substantially lower overhead costs for corporations. While we expect real estate firms to be in dire straits for a while as this adjustment shakes out, companies’ boost in profitability may offset the financial challenges.