Remember the Good Old Days, back when we could go to gyms and work out together?
If so, you might have noticed the rapid appearance of "battling ropes" at your local fitness center, those two parallel heavy ropes that you weren’t quite sure what to do with. Developed by strongman John Brookfield in the mid-2000s, they have become a mainstay at gyms and are often featured in advertisements and fitness videos, probably because watching someone do them the right way is mesmerizing.
Our battle with COVID-19
Maybe because I miss the gym, or maybe just because we are inundated with media coverage of the pandemic, battling ropes also remind me of our own ongoing battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a smooth and consistently increasing climb out of the doldrums, our recent spike in COVID-19 cases looks more like the undulating waves of battling ropes. This is depicted well in Bellomy’s "Pandemic Phases" graphic created earlier this year in an attempt to describe the indescribable circumstances we found ourselves in the midst of. As we moved into the Recover + Transition phase after shelter-in-place orders began loosening, summer was in the air and we all optimistically hoped that we could put COVID-19 behind us and start looking ahead to our New Normal. Instead, what we are experiencing is yet another battle that has unfortunately sent us regressing back towards the Confusion + Fear stage.
The rise and fall of financial sentiment
And while it is well-documented that the stock market has nearly returned to pre-COVID levels — admirably recouping significant losses — non-investors are retreating, suddenly not so sure a trip to the beach is such a good idea, physically or financially. In fact, Bellomy has been tracking financial sentiment of the US population for the last two months across four waves.
Across the first three waves, we saw a slow and steady increase in consumer confidence: people indicated greater confidence in being able to meet their financial needs wave over wave. Further, they increasingly reported feeling more relaxed, cheerful, and optimistic during the first three waves.
Enter Wave 4, fielded during the recent time period in which cases of COVID-19 were reaching new highs and reopening plans were halted across much of the US. Consumer confidence dropped below Wave 1 levels. Worry, pessimism, and feelings of depression were all heightened. This regression, while not altogether surprising given the rise in cases, further indicates a setback as we try to regroup and head to the New Normal. Bellomy’s COVID-19 consumer segmentation provides additional evidence of this, as more consumers migrate towards the financially fearful end of the continuum.
The road to recovery
Based on these data, the road to recovery might be longer and curvier than consumers originally thought and we may have to wait a while to give those hypnotic battling ropes a try for the first time.
Bellomy’s ongoing COVID-19 research can help you better understand how consumers are thinking and what the New Normal will look like. Contact us today for more information.