August 29, 2020

Trend Watch and New This Week

The number of COVID-19 tests performed have declined in four of the past five weeks. However, the FDA approved a second inexpensive saliva test (under $10) in as many weeks that promises quick results in a few hours. We are hopeful that these inexpensive tests will boost overall testing, which could hasten the recovery in activity.

Vaccine trials are quickly ramping higher, with nearly 225,000 people recruited to participate (slide 5).

Masking requirements by state and local governments have helped reduce the spread of the virus (slide 6).

The pandemic has essentially wiped out the 2020 summer movie box office sales (slide 7). While figures have climbed slightly over the past few weeks, sale are being measured in millions currently, a fraction of the billions typically garnered during the summer months.

Lastly, more positive trends on the freight front. Cargo container data at the two largest US shipping ports—Los Angeles and Long Beach—reaccelerated in July (slide 8). This mirrors three months of strong retail sales. Looking ahead, August and September are critical months for shippers and warehousing, which are beginning to receive holiday sales inventory for retailers.

Bottom Line

Activity-based data has reaccelerated generally in August, which is encouraging when coupled with continued improvement in the virus-related data. However, activities that require crowds, such as travel, movie, live productions and sporting events, remain well below historical norm.

Overall, we are generally optimistic about the recovery path, which should resemble Nike’s iconic swoosh as the recovery process will take time and feel like a much longer journey. As we have repeatedly said, the US economy took the elevator down to the basement, but is taking the stairs on the way back up.