Um…Happy New Year?
Don’t worry. This is just the hangover.
You can’t get wasted for 9 straight months (or 4 years) and expect to just spring out of bed the next morning, right as rain. It’s gonna hurt.
And we’re not kids anymore, either. We don’t bounce back like we used to. Expect the effects of 2020 – the fog – to linger for a while.
It will get a tiny bit better after stimulus checks arrive for all the people who need them. And when the weather warms up again. Definitely after the vaccine makes the rounds.
For sure, the 2020 hangover will end this year. Eventually.
And that’s a reason to be happy.
Maybe the karma this week was my fault. It was the first time in over four years I skipped writing on two consecutive Saturdays. I took my eye off the ball and they damn near sacked DC. I won’t let that happen again.
Or maybe I jinxed things before Thanksgiving, when I said we had hit bottom. I’m not wrong in this email very often, but that one was a doozy.
We hit bottom this week. For real this time. And I know it because I’m already sensing a change. A few friends of mine on Facebook, who have been heretofore unyielding, seem to be recoiling – “I didn’t sign up for this!”
It’s like watching a hypnosis – a spell – being broken. It will take time for that hangover to subside too, especially when a ton of people are apparently still shit-faced.
But everyone else should start looking ahead. Drink your proverbial Pedialyte, pour a Bloody Mary or mimosa – hair of the dog – if you must. Whatever it takes to start anew.
Personally, I can’t remember being more eager for a new year to begin. I have a number of things on the horizon – professional and personal – that I can’t wait to tell you about on Saturday mornings to come.
At minimum, I know I’ll get on a plane again this year. I’ll stroll through Manhattan. I’ll get a massage. I’ll play with my band again.
I’ll definitely get drunk again. In a bar.
And the hangover will be way easier than this one.
Happy New Year. Sincerely.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
In related news, consumer confidence is starting off the year on an optimistic note. Our Economic Sentiment Index always sees a positive bounce around the holidays and this one was fairly sustained. A long holiday break, progress on government stimulus, and hopes of proliferating vaccines seemed to boost the consumer mood over the past two weeks, even as the job market showed some troubling softness. Let’s keep it up.
In other related news, I’m doing Dry January for the first time ever and I’m an outlier. Had I known we’d be watching a coup on TV or that the Steelers would be playing a primetime playoff game, I might have thought differently of it, but here we are. I never considered Dry January before, because I’d normally start the year at CES and if you can make it through a week in Vegas without drinking, you’re a stronger and lamer person than me. Ironically, the year I decided to try Dry January is the year we see the lowest incidence of aspiring one-month teetotalers since we started tracking it. When you’re stuck at home in the cold, there isn’t much else to do, I guess.
Although maybe all those people are just planning to trip on mushrooms instead. From the “Trend I Never Thought I’d See” department, support for decriminalization of magic mushrooms is steadily climbing. Forty percent of Americans are at least somewhat supportive of legalizing the psychedelic fungi, up from 36% a year ago. Might we see a revival of tie-dye and Phish while we’re at it?
Real quick, I’m having a full-blown data fetish over this insight right now. There are over 230,000 questions in our database and almost none of them are proving to be better at predicting how someone will answer them than this one. Expect me to write more about this.
We published a really fascinating study on the determinants of happiness and success among Americans today. There’s way more cool stuff than I can cover in this little email, so you should read the article yourself. A few things that jumped out for me the most were the rising importance of health since the pandemic started and, generally, how much our priorities change as we get older. All great stuff as you plot your personal goals for 2021.
People are less confident eating in restaurants, even as states like Pennsylvania make it permissible again. One thing that won’t change in 2021 is me beating you over the head with this fact: Consumers – NOT GOVERNMENT – will decide how we recover from the pandemic. Despite what you see from the fringe element on social media, the vast majority of people are getting smarter about what’s safe during COVID and what isn’t. Sitting stationary, indoors, without a mask over your face, is risky. Government can’t stop that. But they can provide massive financial support to these businesses until it’s safe.
Over one in five Americans will use this round of stimulus checks to pay for basic necessities. This represents an appreciable increase from when we first started asking about a second wave of stimulus in the late summer. We also saw a jump in the number of people who plan to use their stimulus to pay off bills or debt. But one statistic was more remarkable in this study than any other – over 93% of Americans don’t think $600 is enough.
We published a bunch of other awesome material since we last talked:
- After a return to lockdown in many parts of the country, women are wearing much less makeup than they were in June;
- A lot more people than I expected have flown on a commercial airplane since COVID started;
- And even more people have tried dairy-free ice cream and liked it, which I find even more surprising;
- The realization of a coming Biden administration seems to be quelling Americans’ concerns about tariff costs;
- Already dominant in the duopoly, Coke sneakily grabbed even more share of consumer sentiment from Pepsi during the pandemic;
- Discovery is launching a streaming service and it could do quite well;
- People are missing their friends and family more by the day;
- And our latest Trend Adoption Tracker came out this week – language learning apps are on a nice run.
And finally, our most popular poll questions to kick off the new year:
- Have you ever met a US president in person?
- How quickly do you tend to use gift cards after purchasing / receiving them?
- Do you own a back-up generator in your home for use during emergencies / power outages?
- What age did you start working?
- Which of the following popular kitchen gadgets have you used the most often overall?
- Which seems longer: the workday right before leaving for an extended holiday break, or the first day back once you’ve returned to work?
Answer Key: A couple; Seldom before I forget about them; Nope; 15; Dutch Oven; The day after, most definitely.
Hoping you’re well.