It feels like Sunday. 

Not today, necessarily. I don’t know when you’re reading this. Maybe it is Sunday. 

But no. I mean, now. 

It feels like we’re nearing the end of an 18-month weekend, with a big old Monday staring us in the face. Things are going to lurch back to some kind of normal and it’s going to take a shit-load of coffee to get us through tomorrow morning. 

I’m on my first business trip since February B.C. and it’s just the beginning. After Labor Day, I’m booked for speaking gigs, band gigs, client gigs, board gigs, and then some. 

But it’s not all the stuff I’ll be doing that stresses me out. It’s all the stuff I have to say ‘no’ to. Disappointing people blows. Expectations were virtually nil during the long weekend.  

Meanwhile, our kids will return to school (and college visits) after a year and a half of being fully remote. The activity (and chauffeuring) calendar will be back to pre-COVID levels.  

It’s all hurtling toward us like a work-week calendar, tie-dyed with a million colors.

Maybe it’s politically incorrect to say there are things about the COVID era I will remember fondly. Color me politically incorrect, then.

I mean no insensitivity to the people who feel otherwise. People who struggled with physical or mental health, people who lost jobs or small businesses… or loved ones. My heart breaks for them. 

And yes, we had our own hardships. Horrible ones.  

Still, that doesn’t mean it all sucked. On the contrary. 

The quality time we got to spend with our girls before they fly the roost. The walks Tara and I took every day with the dog(s). The long weekends at our cabin. The 20 pounds I lost from not eating (and drinking) in airports or steak restaurants. Wearing shorts every day. The general purge of activities, commitments, temptations, miles, and parking tickets. 

All while our business flourished.

Sure, I’m excited to drink at bars, play with my band, visit my friends, and watch my kids do what they love in front of a real crowd. I don’t want to go through quarantine again, by any means, so let’s hope this Delta surge chills the hell out. 

Still, there are a lot of things I’m going to miss. Whenever the weekend does eventually end, I just hope I can carry those good vibes into the long week to come. 

For now, it’s Sunday. 

Here’s what we’re seeing:

OK, so maybe Monday will be a snow day and it will be a little longer until the full work week begins. I’m riding this analogy until its wheels come off. People are definitely sketched out by the surge in COVID cases and subsequent CDC guidelines. Concern over Delta has risen by nearly 40% over the past three weeks. Americans’ comfort eating out at restaurants (especially among men) hasn’t been lower since early April. I don’t want to think about how bad it would be if the weather sucked. 

The rich – and young – are getting richer. The percentage of Americans who say they are better off financially than before the pandemic has reached a new high of 29%, compared to just 22% who say they are worse off. Driving these recent gains is the high-income crowd – where 38% of people making over $150K say they are better off. But the boost is also coming from another group I wouldn’t have initially expected: Young Millennials and Gen Zs. The blazing hot job market, on the heels of government stimulus checks, has young professionals in the catbird seat right now.  

Parents are particularly concerned about Delta and that could impact how kids go back to school – as well as back-to-school shopping. While the majority of U.S. parents are expecting their kids to return to full in-person school in a few weeks, they’re becoming increasingly uncomfortable about it. The good news for retailers is that a lot of parents are planning to increase their back-to-school spending significantly this year – but whether that goes toward clothes or electronics will depend on who goes back into the classroom and who doesn’t. 

We’re going to see some cool new technology in apparel retail. We did a fascinating study on two emerging innovations in clothes-buying and it revealed some of the highest consumer interest I’ve seen in recent memory. Retailers are experimenting with two cool concepts: One, body-measurement technology to help shoppers calculate their correct size; and two, virtual “try-on” technology to see how clothes look on their body before buying. Over two-thirds of Americans are interested in trying the former, and 44% of women are interested in the latter. In addition to driving new sales, I have to assume a motive for the retailers to deploy this tech would be to cut down on costly returns in the free-shipping era.

Speaking of innovation, the acceleration of tech adoption among older generations will be a major, lasting legacy of COVID. This topic has been a big part of my speaking and webinar schtick for the past few weeks, but I haven’t mentioned it here. Usage among Americans 55+ across categories like AI voice assistants (+35%) mobile payment apps (+50%), food delivery apps (+300%), and telemedicine (+1300%!!) has skyrocketed since before the pandemic and is showing no signs of regressing. This is a big deal. 

Daily fantasy sports are attracting the best possible players. It’s almost fantasy football season, when I perennially and inexplicably torture myself with inevitable failure. At least I’m not alone. One in four Americans plan to play some kind of fantasy football this year and the advent of daily fantasy platforms has been a big growth driver. A study we did this week showed that not only are these new services attracting big numbers, they’re especially popular among the young, multicultural, and even female users marketers salivate over. 

We did two more studies this week you might enjoy:

And, of course, the questions:

Answer Key:  A billion times (effing Ben Affleck); Nope; Vidalia; No, because I’m not an asshole; Morning; Hell no; Of course, several. 

Hoping you’re well.



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