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3 Trends COVID is Accelerating Right Now Thumbnail

3 Trends COVID is Accelerating Right Now

While the coronavirus has significantly altered life, it has also accelerated three trends that were already underway.  

#1 - The Demise of the American Mall

Malls and traditional retail have been under siege by Amazon and other on online retailers for the last twenty years.  In 2010, e-commerce accounted for 4.1% of total retail sales.  By the end of 2019, that percentage had steadily grown to 11.3%.  In the second quarter of 2020, it suddenly jumped 16.1%. This increase represented about 4 years of historical growth crammed into a three month period.  This boost coincided with an estimated 25,000 retail store closings that have hastened the demise of the American mall.1  

Chart: E-commerce as % of total retail sales #2 - Re-thinking Higher Education

The economics behind U.S. higher education were already under strain before COVID-19. The average cost of a four-year college degree had increased 15X since 1980, and student debt had ballooned to over $1.5 trillion.   Meanwhile, 30% of colleges were losing money prior to 2020, and 15% of public institutions had less than three months of cash readily available.2  Now, with many campuses empty and millions of students taking courses remotely, colleges, universities, students and parents are forced to re-think higher education sooner than they had anticipated.

#3 - The Evolution of the Workplace

Working remotely evolved from a corporate privilege for a chosen few into a necessity in for just about anyone who could feasibly execute their job function with a laptop and access to the internet.  With less than 20% of workers back in the office as of December, what was once a company benefit has the potential to morph into a vested right with the power to change the face of corporate America.3    This development has also stoked a surge in home sales and home prices as some American workers have chosen to relocate to locales previously inaccessible due to the limited physical footprint of many large employers.

We are tracking these trends, and others, closely given that they have potentially significant investment implications. 


End Notes:

1. Thomas, Lauren. “25,000 stores are predicted to close in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates industry upheaval.” CNBC, 9 June 2020

2. Garret, Oliver.  "This is the End of College as We Know it.” Forbes, 4 June 2020

3. Grant, Peter. “A New Setback for Big Cities as Return to the Office Fades.” WSJ, 1 December 2020


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