Happy Anniversary.

Today marks exactly five years since I sent the very first of these emails. Hard to believe.  

That’s 241 installments. I missed 17. Amie let me write the word “fuck” four times (now five).  

By my count, 46 of you were on the inaugural list. Way to ride it out.

A few hundred people have unsubscribed. I don’t sleep great most Friday nights, bracing for the reaction. I’ve been called a snowflake, a prima donna, and a bad parent. Those people aren’t reading this right now. 

I’ve had a few people tell me they hate when I write about the email. Cue those replies.

Because this thing has become one of the greatest blessings of my life – professional or personal. I’ve made more new friends than I can count. I’ve met two of my all-time favorite bands and other celebs. We raised nearly $25,000 for suicide prevention. And it has been really, really good for business.   

If you told me in October 2016 that I would somehow come up with 240+ different missives, I would’ve confiscated your weed. It probably wasn’t legal in your state then. 

But none of us could have imagined what the next five years held in store. For better or worse, I’ve had endless amounts of material to work with.

Donald Trump was a longshot to be president when this started. I’d only ever worn a mask on Halloween. You had to wait months to see a new release movie in your living room and I only worked from home when I was sick. 

All of that changed. 

A few things haven’t. 

I’m still the only person in my company not on Slack. I’ve never lost my AirPods – because I never bought any. My hair is still impeccable. My kids still don’t think I’m cool.

The most-read and shared email I ever wrote was this one, where I railed on Gen X during the peak of the George Floyd crisis. The second one was this, in the early days of COVID, when I compared Americans to Neapolitan ice cream. 

People definitely seem to respond when I write about tribalism and generational divides. Even more than when I write about Dick jokes. Unfortunately, Dick jokes are way easier.

Thanks for reading and replying and sharing. I won’t stop until you stop. 

Here’s to the next five years. Hopefully, they’re a bit less eventful.

But I doubt it.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Consumer confidence isn’t as bad as last time, it’s way worse. Unlike our Economic Sentiment Index, my blood pressure spiked Tuesday when the Conference Board reported consumer confidence was “surprisingly” up in October. That’s the problem (and the egregious irresponsibility) with an ancient metric that’s based on data collected during an arbitrary point of time early in a month. Sentiment has been a bloodbath over the past 3+ weeks, particularly bloody from October 18-21. Confidence in making a major purchase (like appliances or large electronics) plummeted. Just in time for the holidays. No bueno.

Trust in the news has rebounded a little over the past year, but partisan divides have gotten worse. In March, a full half of Americans said they didn’t trust any form of media for reliable unbiased news. That has climbed to 59% at the present moment, with national and local broadcast news being the preferred source among 46%, with digital-only sources scraping the bottom of the list. Party politics skew the numbers severely: 59% of Rs say they don’t trust any news, versus just 24% of Ds. Both sides do agree on one thing – that kids should be taught media literacy in K-12 school. I concur. 

Global supply chain problems are even hitting the streaming video industry, sort of. In a glaring sign of how spoiled we’ve become, a growing group of Americans are complaining about running out of TV shows and movies to watch. It’s especially problematic among Gen Z and younger Millennials – 80% of whom say they regularly or sometimes run out of video content, compared to just 44% of Gen X. Not surprisingly, Netflix users complain far less than, say, HBO Max users. It also varies by genre – drama and sci-fi fans seem to have the most sufficient inventory at their disposal. Anyway, check this study out. It’s cool. 

After a rocky start to the pandemic, online grocery shopping is showing steady growth. Grocers (and their app developers) weren’t prepared for the non-linear explosion of demand, compounded by product shortages, in the early days of lockdown. Sparse time slots and incomplete orders gave a lot of shoppers a bad first impression, stunting adoption through the latter half of 2020. But things have been improving in 2021. Thirty-three percent of U.S. adults have now tried online grocery shopping – 2X the number in Q4 of 2019. Another 15% are intending to try it. Gen Xers are the big users and it spans income groups. This is a trend that’s here to stay. 

Americans are expecting a big return to (almost) normal for Thanksgiving and airlines will benefit big-time. The percentage of U.S. adults who plan to spend Turkey Day with friends and family has nearly doubled over this time last year, for obvious reasons. Even more notable is that a full 2X as many people plan to travel by plane for the holiday – compared to 2019! That represents a lot of pent-up demand. You’d think that might be driven by the safer-feeling, vaccinated masses, but no. 

Halloween, on the other hand, may still not be back to normal. Twenty percent of parents say they still aren’t planning to let their kids trick-or-treat this year. That sucks. A third of Americans say they’re planning to spend less on Halloween than usual. That also sucks. In lighter news, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are still the most popular candy by a long shot. We also looked at the most popular Halloween movies (Hocus Pocus is #2). And here are your rankings of America’s favorite traditional costumes. Happy Halloween, everyone.

Here’s a lot more research for your reading pleasure:

Our most popular questions this week:

 Answer Key: Geez, none of them; Nope but I want to see the movie; Ireland; Summer, by far; Actually, yes.

Hoping you’re well.


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