Thursday, 10 December 2020 18:01

Market Insights with Mike, 2020: A Ride Like No Other

Written by Mike Chung, Auto Care Association


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Remember roller coasters? In the “Before COVID” (BC) era, I took my son and his best friend to Kings Dominion in Virginia every summer for a day at the amusement park.

We didn’t go this year, but in a year with so many developments, who needs a wooden coaster for thrills? After all, 2020 is the ride with no apparent end in sight.


To wrap up the year’s developments in the automotive aftermarket, I welcome you to the “Indicators Amusement Park” with more twists, turns, and drops than the Intimidator 305. Let’s start at the “Work/School from Home” area.


“Work from Home” Trends


In the BC era, about 11% of U.S. workers in private industry had access to a “flexible workplace” benefit or telework option, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Throughout the summer, we saw office “unlocks” via key fob or employee badge decrease to the 40% to 50% range, staying fairly flat throughout the “During COVID” (DC) period.


So would the “return to office” coaster track continue its uphill climb in the fall? Surprise! Another drop in the tracks, as illustrated in the figure below:


figure 2 work at office


The Wall Street Journal reports about a quarter of employees had returned to work as of Nov. 18, up sharply from an April low of less than 15%. After reaching a high of 27% in mid-October, the rate plunged at the end of November.


While that drop is reasonable to expect---it was Thanksgiving, after all---as we approach the end-of-year holidays, the future of big cities is being questioned as...

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