A Long-Term Side Effect of the COVID-19 ERA: The Stay-at-Home Economy
The past two years have caused a shift in how consumers do business in the U.S. With more and more Americans working and learning at home, companies have had to adjust to changing customer preferences. Unlike times past, today’s consumers, aided by technology, are becoming less mobile, and they are looking to conduct business at home.
Explosion for in-home services
Technology is moving many formerly brick and mortar businesses into the virtual space. This trend is most evident in industries like healthcare. With telemedicine apps like Teladoc and Amwell, patients can now visit a doctor without leaving their homes. This feature is desirable during flu season or when other highly contagious illnesses are common in the local community.
Technology has also made in-home services possible for some surprising industries, perhaps most notably in the field of notary services. Pre-pandemic, having a document notarized consisted of making a trip to a bank or maybe a drop-off shipping location. But in the current economy, a mobile notary can be contracted to come to the client’s home and complete the transaction.
An evening out is fast becoming an evening in
With the virus still squeezing much of the world in its grip, diners are understandably skittish about spending an evening out in a crowded restaurant. After all, eating while wearing a tightly fitting mask over the nose and mouth can be difficult. Restaurants are responding to these concerns with various curbside pickup or delivery options.
These options allow diners to order and pay for the entire meal (including tip) online and either swing by the restaurant to pick everything up or sit back, relax, and have someone else deliver the food to the home.
Retail and grocery stores shift focus
Like restaurants, retail stores and supermarkets make it easier for customers who are uncomfortable with large crowds to buy their goods without entering stores. The success and wide availability of shopping and delivery apps like Instacart and Shipt indicate the popularity of these services.
Are movie theaters a dying breed?
Once upon a time, few people gave a second thought to spending two hours inside of a dark, cavernous room filled with eating and breathing strangers to view Hollywood’s latest box office blockbuster. Those days are gone, and many doubt they will ever return.
While Netflix has long provided movie buffs with the option of viewing films long after their box office debut, setting up a home viewing party on the same day as a theatrical release is now possible with services like HBOMax and Disney+. With these services, subscribers pay a monthly fee which gives them access to loads of content while staying home.
Remote employment is on the rise
With employees spending more and more time at home, the shape of the workforce is changing. More than ever, Americans stay at home to earn money, and they spend that money from their homes as well. Workers are increasingly demanding remote work options to combat the pandemic and provide them with increased work/life balance.
Companies are responding to the demand by offering split onsite work schedules and, in some cases, entirely remote work weeks. As people become used to these work options, the trend is unlikely to change anytime soon.
The future for the stay-at-home economy, fueled by technology, is looking brighter than ever. With the invention and implementation of newer, more diverse tech, Americans will find fewer and fewer reasons ever to leave the house, for better or worse. These contemporary conveniences are certainly not going anywhere.
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