We bought a new house.

New to us, anyway. It was built in 1845.

No, we’re not the rustic hipster types, weaving baskets and mulling wine. The whole place is modernized. It just looks cool.

We weren’t even thinking about moving a year ago. Or four months ago.

Then Chick-fil-A happened.

Tara and I were devout urban dwellers in our 20s, bouncing around duplexes in the East End of Pittsburgh. Through several moves, we always lived close enough to a bar I could stumble home from.

When we finally fled to the suburbs, we kicked and screamed. To compromise, we found a place right by the main drag, where we can walk to the Baskin Robbins, pharmacy, post office – and a world-class hole in the wall.

Last summer, we noticed that every night at 11 pm, a delivery truck stops at the dry cleaner immediately behind our house. For 15-20 minutes it beeps. Loudly. It has probably done that since we moved here 14 years ago, but we only just noticed it. Guess we’re getting old.

In October, they announced a Chick-fil-A was coming to the plaza nearby. I could hit it with a 7-iron from our backyard. Even when construction started, we didn’t give it much thought. Until we did.

I love Chick-fil-A. But have you seen the traffic around those things? What if our backyard smells like chicken 24/6? Plus, my cancel-everything Gen Z kids aren’t huge fans of the company’s politics, so I wouldn’t even be able to get a delicious sandwich without hiding it.

What would it do to our home value?

What if nobody wants to live 185 yards from a Chick-fil-A?

So, we started snooping on Zillow. Long story short, a (quiet) house we loved came on the market a couple miles away – nowhere near a dive bar, sadly – and we got it.

Our house sold in three days. The buyers must really love Chick-fil-A. Coincidentally, it opens the day we move out.

I’m not biologically equipped to birth quadruplets in a runaway horse-drawn carriage, but I imagine it’s like moving your busy-ass family and 20 years of belongings from one house to another, in the middle of a global pandemic, when the weather sucks.

Which is all to say I’ll be taking a rare Saturday off next week while we relocate. I’ll write to you all again in March from new digs.

Wish us luck.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Consumer confidence is still at a low simmer. I can’t remember many times that our Economic Sentiment Index stayed within a point over four consecutive readings. You could surmise that people are still waiting to see how a lot of things like the stimulus and vaccines unfold. You could also infer that people are simply far less reactive – less sensitive – to the news cycle, compared to the crazy ups and downs of the past four years. Retail spending is certainly still healthy. Job news remains mixed.

The economic impact of the pandemic is hitting women – and especially moms – hard. We’ve begun an extensive study, which is assigned the working title of “Men are Assholes,” whereby we highlight all the ways the COVID crisis has created outsized hardships for women in America (and the world probably). Women, particularly those with children and really particularly young moms, are reporting far more negative financial consequences since the pandemic started. They’ve been far more likely to lose their income and far less likely to have cash reserves to weather it. Stay tuned for way more on this crisis-within-a-crisis. It sucks and we need to address it.

In somewhat related news, most women don’t want a man picking out the engagement ring by himself. We did a super interesting study about all kinds of marriage-related topics, discovering among other things that 17% of people would not marry the person they’re CURRENTLY married to, if they could have a do-over. Three percent of married people readily admit they’re waiting for their kids to grow up so they can ditch. Yikes. Meanwhile, women are more likely to say they want to pick out an engagement ring with their partner. Men are more likely to want to do it by themselves. It doesn’t matter what you think, dude.

Young people are retailers’ best hope for foot traffic. I repeat: Young people are the most likely to shop in your store. Overall, consumers are growing more and more comfortable being in places of commerce. That’s good, if they follow the rules. The big lift comes from Gen Zs and younger Millennials. Seventy percent of them are ready to shop in stores, right now. Market yourselves accordingly, retailer friends.

Telemedicine has plateaued, but it’s still one of the biggest stories of the pandemic in my arrogant opinion. The percentage of Americans who have done a telehealth session has remained steady since July, growing a point here and there. Still, 39% of people have done it – mostly for visits to their PCP – and two-thirds of people have had a positive experience with it (although there are big disparities among minorities). Virtual doctor visits are here to stay, which means a market for better home-based diagnostics and tools is there for the taking. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.
We will never be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube of remote work. Just over half of U.S. office workers have returned to their normal workplace and 31% (like us) haven’t announced an expected return date. Everyone else is all over the map. One thing that’s clear, however, is that people dig the remote work vibe. Forty-one percent of Americans say they’d be willing to take a pay reduction to work from any location they choose. Thirty percent say they would move to another state if they could work from wherever. Women, especially, would high-tail it.
We did a ton of other studies this week:

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: When Tara does them; How the hell is chili not an option?; If you mean washing it, yes; Soft, but I won’t say the other word; Never ever.

Hoping you’re well.


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