“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot
We made it. 2021. The moment we’ve all been waiting for, right?
“But nothing’s changed,” you might be thinking to yourself as the global coronavirus pandemic lingers on, the process of its eradication taking one step forward, two steps back. Indeed, 2020 was a challenging year on so many levels, and we are glad to be rid of it. Yet, it brought valuable lessons with the hardships, as challenges typically do. We have all learned to find gratitude for the most basic fundamentals: good health, financial security, safety and family.
We were all forced to pivot quickly and adapt to what we had hoped would be short-term changes in almost every aspect of our daily lives – from our commute to work to our grocery shopping routine and everything in between. New words and phrases were added to our daily lexicon: Zoom, Teams, “you’re on mute,” social distance, “quarantini,” “maskne.” These words that defined the year became memes, bad puns and T-shirts.
Time for Some New Words
For all the stress, struggle and devastation this cruel virus has created, our adaptability as human beings has created some noteworthy alterations to our culture that appear to be long-term whether we like it or not. Fortunately, these changes to our way of life look like they may be a very good thing for the automotive aftermarket in 2021 and beyond.
As Paul McCarthy, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, talks about on page 24 of our January issue, concerns about miles driven and less need for commuting are being offset by some significant lifestyle shifts.
“We have seen de-densification, a reversal of the urbanization trend. The pandemic has seen people looking for more space and bigger houses. If work allows you to live wherever you want to live, Americans appear to want to live where you need a car! House prices are booming in suburbs and remote-work locations. Used-car prices boomed as people find they need a car – or another car,” McCarthy wrote.
“When we look back five to 10 years from now, as a result of the pandemic, we will likely see more vehicles in operation, more demand for last-mile e-commerce, more lifestyles that need mobility through vehicles. … Essentially, we are seeing a trade: a decline in the source of 25% to 30% of driving, commuting, for consumer trends that would structurally increase the centrality and demand for driving of the remaining 70% to 75% of miles driven. And these pandemic-prompted trends might have persistence.”