Down-to-Earth Aspects of the US Economy in Near-Real Time

Long way to go, after 6 months of Pandemic.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The US economy is completing the sixth month of the Pandemic. So how is the recovery going, as seen by the near-real-time indicators that have sprung up as a result of the Pandemic? The raw unadjusted data of these indicators compare daily or weekly data this year to how it was just before the Pandemic, or how it was at the same time last year.

There is some roughness in this data. For example, this year, Labor Day fell on September 7; last year, it fell on September 2 (prior week). So there are some wild fluctuations as Labor Day data gets compared to non-Labor Day data. Independence Day was similar. But that’s raw data.

Restaurants, “seated diners”: -49%

Online reservation service OpenTable provides daily data on “seated diners” – how many people actually sit down in restaurants to eat and drink compared to the same weekday in the same week last year – including walk-ins and those who made reservations online or by calling. This data is based on thousands of restaurants in the US that share that information with OpenTable. I used a 7-day moving average to smoothen out the day-to-day fluctuation. The date-mismatch of Labor Day caused the spike in the chart below. Currently, after six months of Pandemic, “seated diners” are still down 49% through September 14, from where they’d been last year at this time:

In the chart above, that plunge to -100% (meaning zero seated diners) occurred during the lockdown when sit-down restaurants were closed. Then the recovery took off in its uneven manner, including some backtracking after Independence Day.

According to OpenTable data, about 70% of the restaurants that took reservations before the pandemic are now taking reservations again, up from zero percent in April, and there has not been any improvement over the past three weeks, and not a lot of improvement since early July (chart via OpenTable):

Airlines, Airports, & Related Businesses: -68%.

The air passenger count entering the security zones of US airports is still down over 68% (-69.7% on September 14), according to TSA airport screenings. Airport operations, restaurants and shops at airports, airport rental cars, and the rest of the airport ecosystem are on a similar trajectory. Beyond the date-mismatch around Labor Day, demand has improved only slightly since early July:

Going to the Office: -74.4%.

This is a measure of the shift to work-from-home mixed with employment reductions of office workers, and sheds light on what all the businesses face that cater to office workers, such as cafes, restaurants, shops, barbershops, hair saloon, and the like. And it sheds light on what the office segment of commercial real estate is facing.

The data from Kastle Systems, provider of access systems for 3,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 47 states, represents a large sample of how many people are entering offices each day. Its “10 City Average” of office occupancy is currently at 24.6% of the pre-Pandemic level in early March, and has not significantly improved in over the past few months, meaning it’s still down by 75.4% (the available average data only goes back to June):

The weekly “Back to Work Barometer” by Kastle shows each of the 10 metros separately: At the high end, the Dallas metro (38.3% of pre-Pandemic) and the Los Angeles metro (32.4% of pre-Pandemic); at the low end, the San Francisco metro (13.7% of pre-Pandemic) and the New York metro (13.8% of pre-Pandemic), meaning that office occupancy in those 10 metros is still down between 61.7% (Dallas) and 86.3% (San Francisco). I added the black horizontal line, reflecting the current value of the top-10-city average (click on chart to enlarge):

To get a feel for what San Francisco’s office situation looks like visually, here are the haunting photos I took during the morning rush hour of the spookily empty Financial District.

Consumer and worker visits to “Places of Commerce.”

How many people are going to stores, malls, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, airports, hospitals, other places of commerce, and other points of interest, and to work locations? The AEI’s weekly Foot Traffic Index for 40 metro areas tracks this based on cellphone GPS data from Safegraph.com.

Each line, representing one of the 40 metros, compares foot traffic in the current week to where visits were in the week ended January 15. A value of 100% would mean foot traffic is back to the January “old normal.”

The top bold redlines are Kansas City, Jacksonville, Riverside-San Bernardino, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, in that order, with Kansas City being the red line at the top (77%) and San Francisco being the green line at the bottom (45%). This means visits to places of commerce in Kansas City are 77% of where they were in the week ended January 15; and in San Francisco, visits are 45% of where they were (click on the chart to enlarge it):

These near-real-time measures don’t track the entire economy, such as manufacturing, oil-and-gas drilling, financial services, insurance, and many other aspects. But the data show that certain physical aspects of the economy – where people are physically going to do business in some manner – are still very far from the “old normal.”

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  101 comments for “Down-to-Earth Aspects of the US Economy in Near-Real Time

  1. Anthony says:

    I wonder if the seated diner data has to do with social distancing requirements. Im sure even if they were back to previous levels the capacity is probably at 70-80% max.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Anthony,

      That’s an interesting point. We’re doing the outside-eating thing. Restaurants that have been given adjacent public spaces may have more room outside than they used to have inside. I’ve already been to a couple of places like that. Others only have a fraction of their tables outside that they could have inside. Many restaurants are still closed.

      No restaurant can survive at 25% or even 50% capacity on Friday/Saturday nights. So I imagine that outside seating will supplement constrained indoor seating (at least until the weather gets too crappy). And many restaurants won’t re-open under those conditions.

      • MCH says:

        Part of the problem is that there are an overflow of restaurants previously. The not so good places will all go away because of this. But, one would think the decent places can survive on take out.

        I hope so at least, a nearby sushi place which has been popular with the locals seem to always have a line out the door. In door dining is likely going to be done for at least a year or more, and I think the entire dynamic is going to change going forward, there is no going back.

        • Nick says:

          Good places will not survive on take out at all. Most high end places make a ton of money on alcohol sales. Nobody is going to go to a Michelin rated restaurant or a Zagat and order food to go. There was a local chain restaurant Texas Roadhouse that opened in my area and it seems to be doing ok. But the last thing I have any desire to do is get a nice steak to go and eat it at home. Add in coming fall/winter weather and it’s a disaster that will never end.

        • Mr. House says:

          Part of the problem is that we totally overreacted to this. Well some people have.

      • Trinacria says:

        What about rain and inclement weather with regard to outdoor seating if said outdoor seating is being looked at as the supplement ?

      • Thomas Roberts says:

        In my midsized Midwest city along with all nearby cities, I can easily say very few restaurants are at their new allowed max capacity. Some of the better upper midrange ones that were typically full are mostly full to full. The rest are at reduced capacity (a select few have done better) (some of the very popular fast food restaurants have far less inside customers, but, do have alot in drive thru, not sure if it evens out), this is despite my area not exactly being the take it really serious area. Movie theatres are far below new max capacity, but, may be recovering slowly. The big stores are doing great in my area, smaller stores vary. Most businesses (typical office environments) in my area that I’m aware of simply locked their doors to the public during lockdown, most have reopened doors to pubic. Schools in my area have kids in 2 days a week with masks on, except, during lunch.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Wolf, it would be very interesting to see a repeat of your tour of the financial district during ‘rush hour’. Has it appeared that the ‘environment’ has improved?

      • Jdog says:

        For those restaurants who can hang in, I would expect the hit coming in commercial real estate is going to make space much more affordable and we will probably see much bigger restaurants in the future, to accommodate generous spacing.
        Where I live all restaurants are open, but I am still seeing very little sit down business, it is all pretty much take out, which shows the mindset and comfort level of the public. It is going to be a slow road back.
        Personally, I am using the money I would have otherwise spent eating out and using it preparing, and stocking up. This may be a bad winter, if cases surge, or riots and insurgency increase and people begin to panic again.
        I sleep better when I am well prepared. 30 cu.ft. of freezer space will stock 1000lbs. of food. I have friends in other parts of the country who are telling us some types foods like meat have been in short supply, where they live ever since this all began.

  2. Engin-ear says:

    Great charts, regrettably absent from mainstream media.

    After a little research, the only consolation I found is that a big country can keep rolling even at 50% of employement rate.

    Like India and Turkey.

    Source : wiki.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_employment_rate

    • Harrold says:

      The civilian labor force in the US is only 165 million people.

      The population of the US is 330 million.

      • Engin-ear says:

        Euh…

        “…employment rate = the proportion of employed adults in the working age. The definition of “working age” varies: Many sources, including the OECD, use 15–64 years old,[1] but EUROSTAT uses…”

    • Nick says:

      Sure, keep believing that. India is a third world sht hole and Turkey? Really? Americans are being decimated financially and having their livelihoods destroyed while the wealthy and elites have been barely affected. You can only keep the barbarians at the gate for so long. They will crash through eventually. And we have the most well armed populace in the world, rightfully so, don’t forget that.

  3. ru82 says:

    i would think some non restaurants businesses must also be seeing a drop in revenue.
    I work for a software company and sales are at 40% of last years total. We have a few months left so maybe we can hit 50.%

    • Pete Koziar says:

      ru82:

      What kind of software (e.g., consumer, games, productivity, business planning, etc.)?

      Any fears of a staff reduction, or are they going to hang tough?

    • sierra7 says:

      Re: other businesses besides restaurant:
      Family owned 35 year office tech business in Santa Clara Valley initially business off around 50%; now it is still down around 40%. Lots of their customers are also in same situation. “Other” medium sized construction company “maintenance & repair” facilities are doing well; new business not so good. Many employees working from home (sales and servicing). Facilities are being downsized. Outlook is “uncertain” at this time. I don’t see how it could be any different. Too much uncertainty on how long this health emergency is going to last and how long the “rules” of how we’re going to live continues. Most outlook is to keep things “tight”.

  4. Mike says:

    While people may not be “eating in” my local Italian restaurant told me that their “take out” was way up.

    • Paulo says:

      Exactly. I have patronised the same Chinese restaurant for over 30 years and have gotten to know the staff quite well. Their sales are the same despite not opening their restaurant to in person dining. Downtown workers miss going for lunch and complain about it, but take out supper orders made up for the changes. I have an appt in town this Friday and plan is to get other shopping done by 1:00pm. On the way home will grab ‘my usual’ and have lunch at a lookout above the ocean. Fine dining without a crowd. :-) The brew pub across the street is sucking wind and I expect will shut down.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      This is important. The old economy isn’t necessarily a fair metric because there have been a lot of adaptations.

    • RightNYer says:

      Yeah, the problem with that is that restaurants make a lot of their profit on alcohol, which is basically non-existent for takeout. I suppose that’s somewhat offset by lower labor costs, but I wouldn’t think enough to make the difference. And even little things, like getting an after dinner cup of coffee or tea (huge margins), a slice of cake you don’t really need to eat but order so you can continue sitting at the table socializing, etc.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        DeSantis just allowed take out of alcohol drinks for us rnyr.
        Reminded me of when I got my ”learner’s permit” and became the designated driver for the family, and my parent(s) would sit in the front seat drinking, as FL in those days had no law against open bottles or mixed drinks in hand while driving or riding in a vehicle.
        Helped to get rid early of some folks who were not able to control themselves, but, unfortunately, took out too many innocents to do so.

        • RightNYer says:

          Yup, I saw that, but realistically, no one is going to choose that option if the costs are three times what it costs at home (like normal restaurant drinks are).

          I’m relatively new to Florida, so the days you describe are way behind my time haha.

  5. Old School says:

    I can see this is a good time for smart investors (not me). Covid is a world changing event that is changing the value of most public companies. Someone who can value correctly the winners and losers are going to do really well. There are going to be some real winners and it will be obvious after the fact.

    • Engin-ear says:

      “There are going to be some real winners and it will be obvious after the fact.”

      I call this Luck more than Wit.

      But being smart never hurts.
      Arrogance does…

      (I am not pointing at anyone specific, just thinking…)

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        You don’t need luck, you just need to be able to see who has increasing sales…

        • Engin-ear says:

          Good like finding golden eggs before insiders.

          Ray Dalio described his method in his book. His appoach to beat the insiders by advanced market modeling is brain intensive but seems operational. Well, until recently.

        • Engin-ear says:

          Good *luck*…

          :(

    • Pete Koziar says:

      “It’s only when the water goes out that you can see who’s been swimming naked” – Warren Buffet

      In 6 months to a year, the direction will be clearer. Right now, I think the smartest money is sitting this out in cash.

  6. rich says:

    According to Alan Blinder, the Fed pledged up to $100bn to buying debt of dubious value from big companies, and within weeks had expanded its potential commitment to $750bn.  The Fed also dedicated up to $600bn to fund low-cost four-year loans worth $1m-$25m for mid-sized firms,  and “said it would buy up to $500bn in new bonds issued by states, cities and counties”.  I’ve heard anecdotal stories about loans in the $150,000 range going to beauty salons, auto mechanics and even to Mary K cosmetics sales people.  Subtract all that money created out of thin air, including the $600 per week individual Federal unemployment payments and the $1,200 stimulus checks and the bad economic numbers that Wolf posted could have looked even worse.

    • ru82 says:

      @rich…. good point. I wonder how much of the PPT loan boosted peoples income for this year.

      I too know of someone who did not need it but their accountant said they should take out a loan.

      Then you wonder how many people did not even really have a legit business who took out the loan.

    • Brant Lee says:

      Does the VIX index have any real meaning now?

    • Root Farmer says:

      The $150,000 loans are most likely the EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) program through the SBA. That is one of the loan tiers offered. Underwriting consists of prior revenues as reported on tax filings. Pulse not required.

      Terms: 3.75% fixed for 10 YEARS. Yes, I said YEARS. It is a damned mortgage.

      For some people, there is a lot of money sloshing around right now. Sounds like good times, no?

  7. Dan says:

    Sort of an eerie feeling; you have these people out there on their boats, e.g. Trump boat parades, who seem to have time to do that activity, and the money to have boats. And people buying these expensive peleton exercise machines….and people on the television talking about what industries are doing well, e.g. real estate, and swimming pool builders because people will use their vacation money to buy a swimming pool which is beyond ridiculous since the costs are not similar. And what money are we talking about….aren’t people unemployed or underemployed…..; there was sort of denial of reality even before COVID, and now seems even more so. One has the feeling that someday reality will crash through that not so many people can afford boats, swimming pools, exercise peleton machines, and there will be bad problems on wall street, main street, and alley ways.

    • Truckguy says:

      Dual track economy. Those who still have jobs and are confident they will have those jobs going forward are spending as usual. How myopic that confidence is will become clear in the upcoming months.

      • RightNYer says:

        Yep. The idea that you can have 15-20% unemployment and drastically reduced consumption in whole industries and have no cascading failures is a delusion.

      • Cem says:

        I work in Finance, this is true to a degree but my friends have tightened the purse strings across the board, myself included.

        Anyone who hasn’t isnt paying attention to all of this.

      • Bart says:

        Truck,

        My bet is at least 15% of these people currently with jobs and confidence are going to find themselves without either within a year and then will undergo a permanent reduction in standard of living. The AI spend is going to ramp significantly greater and quicker and white collar workers will not be spared. Most employees who do not directly impact the revenue line are going to have it more difficult in the future than they have had in the past.

    • Jdog says:

      The attitudes and behavior of people spending, and living, like we are in boom instead of bust times is indicative of a generation that really has not seen a “real” recession in their entire life.
      Their normalcy bias of ever increasing prosperity, and consumption by debt, is all they have ever known.
      We have not had real economic hardship since the dotcom crash 20 years ago, and most people working today were too young to really remember that.

    • JC says:

      “Denial of reality” …

      psy·cho·sis
      /sīˈkōsəs/

      noun
      a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
      “they were suffering from a psychosis”

      For investing instead of fighting the crazies there must be some middle ground that recognizes and profits from it. Hopefully not cynically if that’s possible.

      I’ve missed 2 huge rallies over the last 20 years because I was always waiting for the reality to set in, but it never did.

    • Lynn says:

      There’s also a shortage of rice off and on. 100 lbs of rice will last 20 years if stored right.

  8. fred flintstone says:

    The hurricanes and the smoke on the west coast are going to screw all the data up big time.

    • Happy1 says:

      The hurricane will affect a few million people in the southeast for a day or two, not enough to affect nationwide data. I’m in Denver where there is moderate smoke today, nothing like parts of the West coast, but even during the smokey days last week there was very little change in what people were doing. Maybe a little worse for people walking around for a fitness? I doubt a measurable effect. Definitely does not affect people going to work.

      • Seneca's cliff says:

        Here in Western Oregon the fires and smoke are an even more significant drag than covid-19. Roads are back to the same sparse traffic as just after March lockdowns and the sprouts of outdoor dining have been squashed. This is not relegated to a small area but is affecting the entire heavily populated parts of the Pacific North West. The Waste Water utility my wife manages has cut its outdoor crews to a bare minimum due to air quality, Covid did not even do that. This will have a significant affect on the numbers for at least a 2 week period.

  9. David Hall says:

    Some days I watched Bloomberg and saw the dollar falling. Cutting taxes while increasing spending is not good.

    Buying a bigger home might mean more expenses. Benjamin Franklin wrote something like, “A house with two chimneys burns more wood than a house with one.”

    Some people are not sure more stimulus is coming. Better to prepare meals at home than eat in a restaurant.

    I stopped at a truck stop to use the restroom. No one wearing face masks except the employees and myself.

  10. Happy1 says:

    This is amazing data and as usual, better than 99% of the typical MSM evaluation of the pandemic.

    It also shows the reason why those who argue that a second or third wave larger than the first will happen sometime this winter are likely incorrect. The social conditions that existed for the first wave in February and March have not returned and likely will not return, air travel and sit down restaurants and bars and other large social gatherings simply have not returned to normal, and the idea that we can somehow have a situation worse than in February or March this winter just doesn’t make any sense.

    It would only make sense when these numbers return to what they were previously. And I can’t imagine that will happen until well after there is a viable vaccine, probably at least a year after.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      Where I live there are no restrictions on restaurants. Dine in, dine out, dine standing on your head if you want. All summer long restaurants and bars were packed. Schools opened on time as well a few weeks ago. The only things still closed as far as I know are movie theaters, everything else is back to how it was.

      And with all that, in my county which has a population a little north of 100,000, the daily new number of cases was in the single digits yesterday.

      Now granted 100K is different than NYC with 8M. But still.

    • Truckguy says:

      I wouldn’t say any upcoming wave would be larger than the first, but I also wouldn’t say the end of CARES/stimulus and wide-reaching impacts of permanent WFH will be minor.

    • False assumption A: The scientists are wrong, the virus will go away. If the scientists are wrong, you should expect anything. Their optimism is predicated on the notion that mankind has survived every crisis. Civilizations were destroyed, millions perished, and the Grand March of Civilization continues, to paraphrase Kundera, just a different flag hoisted over the army of believers. The notion that half a million of us have to die to make the GDP numbers, it no less absurd than any cause taken up in arms, down through history. At a recent rally the band played CCRs “Fortunate Son” as AF1 landed. Ironic to the hilt. The new virus is an old disease, Kitsch, in a new wrapper.

    • Harrold says:

      Strip clubs are open in Dallas.

    • Paulo says:

      Not really, Happy1.

      regarding : The social conditions that existed for the first wave in February and March have not returned and likely will not return, air travel and sit down restaurants and bars and other large social gatherings simply have not returned to normal, and the idea that we can somehow have a situation worse than in February or March this winter just doesn’t make any sense.

      65 people attended a wedding and……: (the quote below to stay out of moderation lockdown)

      At least 147 Covid-19 cases are now linked to an August wedding reception in Maine, a state CDC spokesman said Saturday.
      Three people connected to the outbreak have died of the virus, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Robert Long told
      The wedding was held in Millinocket on August 7. Since then, the cases have spread to a nursing home and a prison, both more than 100 miles away from the venue.

      Why your argument doesn’t work is that when the original lockdowns occurred there were not that many cases of Covid. Now, due to poor mitigation and bad politics, the virus is everywhere and more easily spread.

      regards

      • Trailer Trash says:

        The arbitrary limit was 50 people, so the establishment was heavily fined and nationally criticized for having 15 extra people. So far, no one has suggested that if they had kept to 50 people, there would’ve been no outbreak.

        I don’t know why the media is so intent on beating up on this one establishment in a state with tiny numbers while Texas and Florida report *thousands* of new cases *every day*.

        I live an hour northeast of Millinocket, in the largest (geographically) county east of the Mississippi. There are *two* active cases in the whole county. So why are we being singled out, when for much of the US contact tracing is not even possible?

  11. Sam says:

    Down town PDX brick & mortar high end burger joint sales are up [since beginning of year] with 4-8pm takeout comprising 80% of sales volume. The owners (family) are astounded as to their success.
    Jmho, their product is exceptional.
    “Half of life is luck, the other half is discipline – and that’s the important half, for w/out discipline you wouldn’t know what to do with luck.” – Carl
    Zuckmayer

  12. MonkeyBusiness says:

    Homebuilders have never been more confident though.

    • Tom25 says:

      Yep, it’s crazy times. Supply chain shortages will slow it down. Lack of land listings will also slow it down. Have never witnessed a land rush like this.

      Have to come to these sites to get a dose of the doom and gloom and world ending predictions to balance things out.

  13. Frog says:

    And then there’s real estate, booming as usual. It feels like 2006 in one way: “Buy now or get priced out forever!”

    But…

    – Forbearance
    – 18% on unemployment

    I’m planning to move from a low cost of living state back to SoCal, where inventory is tight. I’ll wait and see what happens after forbearance ends.

    What would you do?

  14. Ca is on the four tier system. SD got down to tier two, but it looks like we won’t be able to keep that, which means more shut downs. The decline in the number of restaurants is no more, or less serious than the decline in the number of movie theaters. Home food delivery fills the void. Local regulations make Covid safety features more difficult, once we get a national standard, then franchise restaurants can step in and fill the void. There was a time when people were ‘angry’ at McDonalds. When the corporate model of consumption takes another move forward we may see that again.

  15. Mark C. says:

    Good morning Wolf,

    In looking at the Foot Tracking Index I focused on the drop from January 15th till now. I live very near Portland Oregon and have to drive into town several times a week during the day. The city is just a shell of its former self. Very sad.

    January is not a booming time for Portland due to the unfavorable weather. So to be down 50% from a natural low point in foot traffic is notable. Portland’s peak time is during our pleasant summertime.

    Anecdotally, I observe foot traffic to be at a virtual standstill. The workers out at lunchtime are less than the random individuals out for an early morning weekend stroll. The Tom McCall Waterfront Park which used to be a popular gathering place for events and leisure is empty.

    Sadly, I think Portland’s reputation for being an excellent summer destination is ruined. I hope not forever but time will tell.

    Regards,
    Mark C.

    P.S. My close friend who has 2 Airbnb condos was unable to rent one location next to the waterfront all summer. The other location has a long term tenant.

  16. c1ue says:

    Regarding “working in office”: I didn’t see rents as a major factor – albeit a good excuse.
    However, the accelerating trend of relocating employees and cutting their pay – that has legs.
    Particularly since proof of remote work capability means future remote workers can be offshore…

    • Harrold says:

      Offshoring has been going on for 20+ years now.

    • Steve says:

      All this talk of reducing salaries because we are working from home got me to thinking.

      What costs do we really save by working from home:
      For me:
      1) Commuting $198 (monthly train pass)
      2) Vehicle cost to train station $326 (using 0.51 cost per mile)
      2) lunches ~$120/mo (3x a wk at $10 avg)
      That’s it.
      Extra costs:
      1) Upgrade to High speed internet (possible if you’re current bandwidth cannot handle all the webex meetings and such) Incrementally say $40/mo. Mine is $0 as I already have high speed.

      Net net , I save $644/mo

      Oh but now instead of spending 2 hours a day commuting my employer gets an extra 2 hours a day of work. Albeit, at a bit lower productivity rate, but still more productive hours than before.
      So my incremental hourly rate is $20.12/hr ($644 in savings / 32 extra work hours a month). Assumes an 80% productivity rate (40 * .8)

      Given my current rate of $90/hr, I’d say my employer is getting a great deal.

      So what would be the justification for reduced com?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Steve,

        The salary reductions would be location-based. So if you work for a company in the Bay Area, and you’re allowed to WFH, and you move to Tulsa, OK, your rent might go from $3,000 a month to $800 a month, so that would save you $2,200 a month. The company might then offer you a salary that is $1,500 a month less, and you’d come out ahead, and so would the company.

        • Steve says:

          I can see your point. However, if my services to the company was worth $120k while I worked at the office, why would the value of my service be less simply because I WFH?

          Why should the company care where I live in a WFH situation?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, maybe they shouldn’t care. But they do. They want to cut costs, always. That’s a big motivation. Each dollar in costs that they can cut is a dollar added to pretax profits.

  17. Brant Lee says:

    The football stadiums looked a little bare also last weekend. This seasonal business is big-time for the cities that funded the stadiums instead of the rich sport’s owners. More huge lost tax revenue as well as countless small businesses defunct. The team owners will survive well from TV revenue. My goodness, is there any situation in this pandemic where the ultra-rich are actually being hurt badly?

  18. andy says:

    In good news the Snowflake debuts in largest ever software IPO at close to $80 Billion. Uncle Warren triples his money in like a week. Thank you federal reserve.
    Not sure what Snowflake is.

    • Bet says:

      I think data analyzing optimizing software
      It supposedly actually makes a profit
      I think 500 million this year? Total ?

      • Happy1 says:

        Incorrect, still losing money

        • steve says:

          Going public and while making GAAP income is so ‘old school’.

          New model:
          Come up with idea
          lose millions for several years
          go public
          retire a billionaire.

          We do live in an upside down world.

  19. James says:

    People writing about what they think will affect the economy now & in the future…yet NO ONE *exept a post from Denver about “smoke” & how it doesn’t effect foot traffic or activities at all,” has mentioned the forest fires on the West Coast. I left my off grid cabin in western CO 3 weeks ago & the air quality was really low because of a 132,000 acre forest fire 80 miles away.
    Drove back to my house in Oregon Mid-coast and less than 14 days later, 260 homes were burned in my county (Lincoln) some less than 4 miles away! Rolling power outages for 3-4 days….40,000 people forced to evacuate, whole towns in Southern Oregon totally destroyed. 2.5x as many forest acres destroyed this yr compared to the norm. CA is worse and WA is similar.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      James-explaining that ‘…nature bats last-and usually hits a walkoff…’ and receiving understanding of same by those who have never had their nose bloodied by an environmental line-drive is too-often a waste of breath. Hope your losses are endurable.

      stay safe, well,
      and-may we all find a better day.

    • Jdog says:

      Natural disasters are usually a net positive for at least a year or two following the disaster. The need for construction, materials, furnishings, and appliances goes through the roof and the supply demand ratio for labor tilts in favor of labor causing wages to increase.
      Wealthy people are usually impatient, and are willing to pay more to be at the front of the line. That gets the pricing increases started, along with the generous valuations from insurance settlements.

  20. Sam says:

    Concept for today: Bifurcated economy .

    a)Yelp data shows 60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent https://cnbc.com/2020/09/16/yelp-data-shows-60percent-of-business-closures-due-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-are-now-permanent.html

    b)Goldman: “The economy now appears to be on track for a much faster pace of initial recovery than seemed likely just a couple months ago. We forecast Q3 GDP growth of +35% on a quarterly annualized basis, 11pp above consensus expectations”

  21. GirlInOC says:

    No one in media:

    Absolutely no one in media:

    Wolf: here’s the down to earth data on the real economy.

  22. MCH says:

    The thing I noticed is that there are now extra charges tacked onto some of these take out places. One I noticed was called a Living Wage Charge. It seems sensible.

    But I am curious about the economics and the dynamics associated with these businesses. Dine in and take out will have two very different cost structures. If you assume the actual volume of orders are the same, technically, a take out might be a tiny bit more profitable, because all of a sudden, you have the ability to reduce the number of staff.

    I don’t know how actual restaurants are handling this, do most of the wait staff now go away because they have no role. I would guess that’s what the chains like Cheesecake factory will do.

    But what about smaller establishments like your one offs. There, it seems to be much more questionable, especially if some of the staff has been there a long time. Then it’s not as simple as a business decision. But people would have to balance that against the struggle to keep their business open.

  23. Tom29 says:

    Our bars are full, the restaurants are full..with reduced seating, no restriction at the bar..if they have one. A few masks in the restaurants…none at the bars.

    Been that way since end of lock down.
    Somehow we have survived. Maybe alcohol is the treatment.

  24. fred flintstone says:

    Chairman Powell……could teach the mob a trick or two…..or even three, four and five. As the Indians used to say…..beware of white man whose lips move.

  25. Andrew says:

    Extraordinary figures. Well researched.
    interesting comments.
    Is this the right time to talk about a redistribution of wealth in our countires?

  26. Serge says:

    Capacity might low due to restaurants raised their prices 50% or more. Recently went to hooters 6 wings is $9.99, beer $10 plus tax. 30 million unemployed simply can’t afford it.

  27. BP says:

    Grocery sales are way up. Building materials and contractor sales are way up (low mortgage rates/refi’s) sporting goods sales are up (guns, ammo), auto sales are up. Consumer income is up from stimulus. Hotels, restaurants, bars, gasoline all down.

    • Rosebud says:

      sporting goods sales are up (guns, ammo)

      That’s funny. Whatever happened to tennis rackets, baseball gloves, judo outfits? I know axe throwing is popular.

  28. tom25 says:

    A friday in sept. We should be on the downside of new construction requests coming in. Our little mom & pop business…10 new builds
    in 1 day! Crazy times.

    Machinery & crew are ready for some down time.

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