Plan for 2021 looking on the bright side
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Mostly sunny with intermittent clouds and showers. That’s my forecast for 2021. It may seem overly optimistic at the moment, what with talk of more shutdowns in the weeks ahead and the standoff in Washington. I am confident, however, that this too shall pass, the ship will get righted, and we will enter calmer waters as the new year gets underway.
Having gone through so many months of uncertainty and reversals this year, why should I expect the situation will improve in the next? Despite the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many countries, we are making progress on preventing and treating the virus as well as on producing an effective and safe vaccine.
I am hopeful this second wave of infections will convince more people to take the necessary precautions against spreading the virus. News this past week about several successful trials have raised expectations that at least in some countries a vaccine will be available for the most vulnerable populations by spring and for the rest of us by summer or fall. In the meantime, we have learned to adjust to the new normal and everyday are finding new workarounds to help us return to our regular activities as much as possible.
On the social and political front, every indication suggests that the new administration in Washington will be more stable and predictable. We likely will experience less civil unrest. Communities can focus on rebuilding rather than on quelling conflicts.
Less clear is what the future holds for the economy. Some experts are predicting a recession for much of the coming year as a number of sectors remain depressed due to the need to restrict social interaction and Congress has been unable to agree on providing additional financial stimulus to offset the impact on household incomes and consumer spending. Others believe that if the coronavirus can be kept in check until a vaccine is available, we will see a quick uplift in the economy. So far, the signs are pointing to continued growth in the fourth quarter, provided we don’t have a return to widespread closures and lockdowns in many parts of the country.
Unemployment rates and the number of people applying for unemployment benefits have been dropping in recent months. Consumer spending has been strong as well, just directed in different ways, more toward basic goods and less toward services. The stock market rebounded quickly and has remained strong for most of the year. Interest rates are presumed to remain low throughout the coming year. Those trends bode well for positive momentum going into January.
To everyone’s surprise, the housing market took off like a rocket in late spring and has not slowed down since. Sales of both new and existing homes have been brisk, including luxury, second and vacation homes. Home prices have risen by double-digit levels.
Among those who choose to stay put with the home they have, remodeling projects have boomed. No slowdown is in sight for either trend, at least through the first half of next year. Which is great news for residential designers, who have seen their business bounce back as a result.
My advice to you is to begin your business planning for next year with the expectation that it will be a good year overall. We may encounter some hiccups in the first quarter, but I firmly believe things will improve as the year progresses.
I suspect many people feel as I do that it’s time to brush off 2020 and prepare for better days ahead. Take time to really enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Close up shop for the last week of the year and give yourself a much-deserved break to rest, relax and recuperate. You’ll be ready to start the new year refreshed and focused on growing your business.
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