I never thought I’d miss traveling this much.

I’m not talking about vacation or weekend-getaway travel – though I miss that, obviously.

I’m talking about business travel. The kind where you have to get up so early in the morning, you don’t sleep because you have dreams all night about missing your flight.

The kind where you gloat inside as you walk past the mile-long security line for the shorter PreCheck line. Or when you really gloat inside about your early boarding group – or the magical upgrade – because you know how hard you worked to earn your perks.

The kind of travel where you watch anxiously as people pour onto the plane, hoping nobody takes the middle seat in your row, then fist-bumping the stranger in the window seat when the door closes and the middle seat is still empty. On business travel, small victories rock.

I miss BS-ing with the Uber driver, the hotel doorman, the bartender – the sorts of conversations you can only have when you’re traveling alone. And I definitely prefer to travel alone. Living in my own head, responsible for only my schedule, my welfare.

Oh, and I really, really miss having complete autonomy over the thermostat when I sleep.

I even miss the 1 to 3 mini bottles of cheap red wine I drink on the flight home.

One thing I’ve learned from this whole quarantine situation is that Tara misses me traveling, too. Maybe more? I left a day early for our cabin a couple weeks ago and I might still have a bruise on my ass from the door hitting me on the way out.

I always assumed it was a burden on her when I traveled. The logistics of trucking our kids to their activities and handling all the chores is hard solo. Plus, I’m generally just a joy to be around, 24/7.

I guess the novelty of the extra breathing space and the quiet alone time outweighs the logistical hardships when I’m gone. At least for a few days at a time. And as long as I leave the house stocked with food and wine before I leave.

Who knows when I’ll get to travel again or how much different it will be when I do? Maybe the middle seat will always be empty. I know it will be hard to drink that shitty red wine with a mask over my face.

But I look forward to my next business trip anyway. Just not as much as Tara does.

Consumer confidence flattened out after a little bounce in April – and now we wait. Our Economic Sentiment Index barely budged over the past two weeks, while people begin holding their breath as many state economies slowly experiment with reopening. Confidence in the housing market and major purchases saw a nice jump but longer-term economic fears have begun percolating and optimism for the job market hit an all-time low, because – let’s face it – nobody has any freaking clue how this is going to play out.

States may be opening up but consumers still aren’t. We now have enough data to study how people are reacting to the end of quarantine in some areas and the results aren’t exactly awesome. Take Florida for example, where the ratio of people who are comfortable shopping in stores over the past two weeks looks almost identical to the weeks prior. An older relative of mine in Florida told me that all of her friends are afraid to go out in public because so many people are brazenly ignoring distancing guidelines and mask etiquette. Turns out the libertarian social justice warriors who were screaming to reopen businesses are now the ones hurting them. How ironic.

People who are comfortable shopping in stores are much more likely to hit up Kohl’s than Ross. We’re releasing a killer tracking product (product = $$) next week, benchmarking hundreds of retailers and restaurants based on the willingness of their customers to reenter physical stores and when. The differences are fascinating when you dig into the profiles of shoppers and diners – and why they are reluctant, or not. I’ll save you from emailing me; yes, we’re tracking your brand.

Mobile banking is having a watershed moment. Much like telemedicine, grocery delivery, and Zoom, retail-banking-by-mobile-device is killing it since social distancing came along. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults now do at least some of their banking on their phones, while those who do more than 75% of all their banking on mobile jumped over 20% since February. Surprising, to me anyway, is that Gen X is the most likely to do their banking on their mobile phones. This trend isn’t going away.

Public transit might be the trend that sees the biggest COVID 180°. In the age of urbanization and sustainability, public transportation was becoming all the rage, especially for the Millennials and Gen Zs who wanted to ditch their cars. But that trend might not only come to a screeching halt, it might go in reverse. Coronavirus fears have even the most loyal public transit users rethinking things. More than half of previous subway, train, and bus-riders say they’re not at all likely to use public transportation when lockdowns are lifted. Bad for local governments. Bad for the environment. Good for the car companies.

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Wine drinkers would rather stay home. No, not just so they can drink wine. The types of folks who drink wine are much more likely than beer drinkers to say they will remain in quarantine, even as restrictions are lifted. These are fairly intuitive proxies: Women are more likely to drink wine. Men are more likely to drink beer. Women are more cautious about the coronavirus. Men are more cavalier about it. Still, if you’re in the booze-peddling business and this doesn’t tell you how to market your products right now, maybe marketing isn’t your thing. Try accounting.

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And that’s not even half of the stuff we gave away for free this week like this…

Finally, the most popular questions of the week: 

Tara’s (Probable) Answer Key: Breaking into prison; Psyched; Yes; Yes; “John!!!”


Hoping you’re well.