Romer: Cliches and economic trends offer preview to winter season
The thing about cliches is that there is often a grain of truth to them.
In today’s COVID “new normal” environment, we’re seeing many cliches and buzzwords. Consider in these “challenging,” “trying,” “uncertain” or “unprecedented” times, while “doors are closed” or “distance between us” has grown, we can still “stay connected” in the “safety of our home.” Brands promise to remain with you, assuring us that we can all get through this “together” (“together,” “together” and “together”).
Sports cliches offer a glimpse into the upcoming winter season. After all, “we need to take it one game at a time” as we look ahead to the winter. Our continued fight against COVID has “turned into a defensive battle” but the good news is that “defense wins championships.” Businesses across industries need to be “a student of the game” to plan ahead for their marketing and workforce needs.
Cliches and buzzwords are overused and commonplace; apologies for littering this column with so many in three paragraphs. Despite the annoyance of cliches, it is going to be paramount to focus on “blocking and tackling” — focusing on the basics of customer service and core business principals as we move forward, while understanding the macro and micro-economic factors that drive our economy.
Consumer confidence, which both reflects and drives how consumers feel about the economy, is highly impacted by job gains and losses, as is the availability of discretionary spend, and how saving versus spending habits are practiced. Increases in jobless claims are cited by consumers as a reason for decreased confidence this month.
The Conference Board recently reported that consumer confidence fell for the second consecutive month. The confidence level is now at its lowest point of the pandemic. Consumers who think business conditions are “bad” increased from 38.9% to 43.6% and consumers who expect an increase in their income in the next six months declined from 14.8% to 12.7%.
When consumers are confident, they spend more, but the reverse is also true. This data shows how important it is for Washington to come together on a pandemic relief package to instill confidence. Such a package should contain timely, temporary and targeted relief, including a liability safe harbor as well as support for slow-to-recover employers, the unemployed, and state and local governments.
On the bright side, pessimism about the pandemic’s course is in decline. Perceptions of the safety of travel-related activities overall remain better than in July and Americans’ elevated levels of concern about their health and financial safety appear to be on a stable, unchanging course.
We’re seeing this manifest itself in booking lead times across resort communities. Based on data from Inntopia, lead times have increased very slightly in the past week, but at approximately 40 days, remain considerably below their seasonal average of 51.8 days. The shorter-than-average lead times continue to be defined by consumers that are wanting to make a travel decision within a “comfort window” of known conditions.
Businesses crave certainty; it allows them to plan long-term and make investments to make those plans a reality. And among the largest challenges in our current COVID economy is the lack of certainty. Looking ahead at the winter season, our communities and businesses must balance macro-economic factors such as consumer confidence and micro-economic factors such as booking lead time.
Our fall and winter seasons are going to look different; “we have to come together as a team” knowing “there’s no ‘I’ in team” in order to “come together as a team” to understand how macro-economic factors will impact our upcoming winter season.