Insights on Changing Consumer Behavior

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Deciding how to reopen based on political bias and guesswork has been a disaster. Here’s how we should do it instead.

Emerging from COVID-19 lockdowns is a difficult balancing act, to be sure, but this is no time for guesswork.

Over the past month, too many of our local and federal policymakers have made important decisions about the reopening of our economy without sufficient consumer spending data. This haphazard approach has led to polarization and recriminations as we are already seeing a resurgence of cases in more than 30 states.

If the country is going to successfully tackle the virus and reopen our economy, policymakers should make decisions based on data — not politics, not bias — that balances both the economic benefits and health risks.

We need a common structure — a framework — to aid in decisions on reopening. This would provide a real-time data lens on what economic activities are simultaneously least COVID-19-risky and most economically powerful, rather than those that risk new outbreaks but don’t add much fuel to the recovery engine.

The roadmap, as seen in the chart below, contains the two most important data vectors for policymakers:  The vertical axis represents consumer spending impact from 1,000+ banks. The horizontal axis is “health risk,” combining 26 health analyses sources that sought to capture top epidemiologists’ views, as well as those of other healthcare experts.

We placed 19 consumer spending categories into the analysis, based on their respective economic benefits and health risks. But again, it’s the methodology I want to focus on. Officials can adjust the health risks in their geographies as conditions dictate, so long as they’re accurately measuring economic impact.

Road Map to Safely Re-Opening the Economy Health Risk Sources

Michigan Live:  From Hair Salons to Gyms, Experts Rank 36 Activities by Coronavirus Risk Level – Read More
NY Times: When 511 Epidemiologists Expect to Fly, Hug and do 18 Everyday Things Again – Read More
National Parks Conservation Association:  When Will it be Safe for National Parks to Re-open –  Read More
The Atlantic: Social Distancing is Not Enough – We need a comprehensive strategy to reduce the sort of interactions that that can lead to more infections – Read More
Restaurant Hospitality: CDC Updates Guidelines for Opening Restaurant Dining Rooms and Bars – Read More
ABC 7 News:  Cornavirus:  What’s Your Real Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 at the Grocery Store? – Read More
The Atlantic:  Grocery Stores are the Coronavirus Tipping Point – Read More
AlphaSense:  Consumer & Retail Faces Widespread Risk from Coronavirus – Read More
Remodeling:  Home Depot, Lowe’s Respond to Coronavirus – Read More
Washington Post:  Another Casualty of the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Taxi Industry – Read More
Time.com:  NYC Taxi Drivers are in Peril as They Brave the Coronavirus and Uncertain Futures – Read More
NPR:  Coronavirus FAQs:  How Risky is it to Fly? Is There Any Way to Reduce the Risks? – Read More
Health:  Is it Safe to Stay in a Hotel During Covid-19? What you Need to Know Before you Plan a Vacation – Read More
Eater: Is it Safe to Eat at Restaurants Yet? – Read More
Business Insider:  11 Tips to Lessen the Chances of Getting Sick While Riding Trains, Subways, and Buses in the Age of Coronavirus, According to Experts – Read More
BBC:  Coronavirus:  What’s the Risk on Public Transport? – Read More
Consumer Reports:   How to Stay Safe From Coronavirus While on Planes, Trains, and Buses – Read More
USA Today:  Will We Ever Go to the Movies Again? – Read More
Scientific American:  How Coronavirus Spreads Through the Air: What we Know so Far – Read More
Healthline:  Is it Safe to Get Your Hair Cut or Your Nails Done Now? – Read More
USA Today:  ‘Inherently High-Risk Setting:’  Are Cruise Ships Unsafe – and Will They Change? – Read More
CNBC:  When Will We Be Going to Concerts and Sporting Events Again?  Here’s What Experts Saying –  Read More
The Atlantic:  A Guide to Staying Safe as States Re-Open – Read More
NPR:  When is it Safe to Ease Social Distancing? Here’s What One Model Says for Each State – Read More