Roy Gilbert

The next normal arrives: Trends that will define 2021—and beyond

In January 2021, we made a series of projections about trends that would characterize 2021 and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic (see sidebar, “Trends projected in January 2021”). Since then, some countries have rolled out widespread COVID-19-vaccination efforts; in others, there have been reverses. Circumstances have changed.

Six months later, we have updated our work, with a focus on the United States. As an advanced economy that’s now largely open, it can to some degree be seen as a bellwether for postpandemic trends. The return of confidence unleashes a consumer rebound

Personal savings in the United States spiked in April 2020 to 33.7 percent—the highest rate ever recorded. 1 With stores and entertainment venues shut down across the country, what was there to spend money on? US household savings have more than doubled, to $3 trillion, since 2019. In January 2021, we suggested that spending “will only recover as fast as the rate at which people feel confident about becoming mobile again,” and that’s what appears to be happening.

A McKinsey survey published in May 2021 found that about half of US consumers wanted to indulge themselves—cautiously. Even among those who want to splurge, a large number are waiting until they are more confident about eating in restaurants or traveling. One key distinction is between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. For example, McKinsey research found that vaccinated Americans were spending more time and money away from home, and the way they were using leisure time was approaching prepandemic levels. In […]

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