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COVID-19 Crisis: Testing the Waters to Get Back to Business

4 MINUTE READ | May 11, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis: Testing the Waters to Get Back to Business

Author's headshot

Abby Long

Abby Long is the Senior Managing Editor at PMG.

PMG is providing near-daily briefings to track the novel coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the economy and business world for our customers. The briefing for May 11th, 2020 was sent to PMG customers this morning, and can be found below.

Happy Monday. This weekend, I donned a face mask and went shopping for nonessentials at a few big brand home retail stores to see what the new normal looks like. The in-store safety measures were vastly different, the most unusual being a “touchless shopping experience,” in which only store associates were allowed to remove the merchandise from the shelves and take to the front for check-out. Only then was I permitted to confirm the softness of a navy blue throw pillow I had my eye on. 

My first question is, what pandemic response criteria are to be met before customers are allowed to touch fabric and sit on couches again before they buy? Then, how do you shift your messaging to reintroduce the “preCOVID shopping experience” and signal that conditions have changed? Or do you ever revert back?

Anyway, let’s get onto the briefing.

  • Weekend in review

  • Back to business

The coronavirus outbreak has hit the White House. Two staffers tested positive, health directors, including Dr. Fauci, are self-quarantining, and daily testing has been introduced for every staff member and Administration official. Across the pond, France allowed its citizens to leave their homes this morning after 55 days of mass quarantine (though most businesses aren’t open yet), and the U.K. unveiled its “conditional plan” to ease restrictions

In South Korea, newly reopened bars and nightclubs were closed down after a wave of new infections. Shanghai Disney reopened this weekend with limited capacity, timed entry, and strict social distancing guidelines. Tickets sold out, and judging by the photos, attendance was in the thousands. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison shared his three-step process via Facebook that will remove all domestic restrictions nationwide by July as a result of a major testing and contact-tracing drive. Speaking of contact tracing, the U.K. is considering ditching its homegrown contact-tracing app for the Apple x Google technology in development.

Other weekend news of note:

  • Per MoffettNathanson, the number of pay-TV subscribers lost in Q1 reached 1.8M, the sector’s worst quarter on record.

  • The first major U.S. sporting event since lockdowns began, UFC 249, took place on Saturday night without fans.

  • Tesla sued to reopen its Fremont, CA factory after local restrictions contradicted state reopening guidelines. Elon Musk threatened to pull the automaker company out of the state. 

  • Carnival announced its cruise lines will take sail again in August, and one booking company saw a 600% increase in volume compared to three days before the announcement, a +200% YOY increase. 

On Friday, the April jobs report was released, and the “White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he believes the unemployment rate will surpass 20% and peak in May or June,” according to Axios. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin estimates it could soon reach 25 percent. From The New York Times, “April 2020 — more technically, the period between the second week of March and the second week of April — was the worst month for American workers at least since the Great Depression and possibly in the history of the nation.”

Of the 20.5M jobs lost last month (which equates to more than one out of eight jobs), over 36K were associated with the advertising industry

With the clock ticking, several bureaucratic hoops to jump through, and consumers getting restless to return to normal, it looks like everyone is testing the waters as soon as reopening is allowed, determining how to safely reopen for students, customers, and get employees back to work. CLEAR, the biometric ID company you’ve probably seen at airport checkpoints, announced it would have a new product to help businesses screen employees by linking personal health data to verified IDs. I have no doubt we’ll see more tech concepts and postCOVID solutions announced ahead of summer and in the weeks to come. 

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Have a fantastic Monday.