First, in Spring 2020, as we retreated into our homes concerned for the health risks of contracting COVID, we re-centered our lives. Following stringent social distancing guidelines, we imported the world to our personal fiefdoms. Thus, we’re spending more on groceries to prepare our own meals, purchasing cable and satellite TV for news and entertainment, and cleaning products attempting to safeguard our families.
And, for Millennials as well as Gen Z’ers, who may be priced out of living in their own homes with increasing rents (and increasing unemployment and underemployment in the current economic upheaval), more of them are re-centering their lives back in their childhood bedrooms, taking residence with their parents.
Additionally, as many college campuses are shuttered or severely limiting on-campus residency, college students are moving nearby campuses to mimic their “college lives” as much as possible, their college costs may continue rising.
Secondly, decreasing costs for “food at work or school” as well as “hotel and similar”, is also indicated by the growing unemployment of service workers, including high school and college students working part-time. Moreover, for those new and underemployed college grads, who work(ed) in service jobs, they may also be struggling to make ends meet financially, which can cascade into less wealth accumulation over their lifetime.
As vaccines become more widely available, perhaps these pricing trends will reverse back to pre-COVID. Yet, will families simply resume their pre-COVID consumer lifestyles? What will be the lasting lessons of families becoming more centralized at home with children less extended in perpetually scheduled activities? As in their COVID-induced retreat, kids have also become more attuned to their interests, so will they rethink how they spend their time or will they simply re-engage in all their old activities? Only time will tell.
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