4 Changes Resulting From The Pandemic That Will Stick

Elliott R. Morss profile picture
Elliott R. Morss


  • The pandemic is causing many changes.
  • Many will be short term. But some will build on changes already underway.
  • In what follows, those changes already underway will be discussed.


As is painfully obvious, the world is in an unusual place: we are told that to survive, we must wear masks, social-distance and wash hands often. The result has been fear and the worst depression since 1929. Hopefully, scientists will soon find ways to eradicate or minimize the virus’ effects so the world can return to “normal.” But the normal will be different in several important ways from what has gone before. In what follows, four “new normals” will be discussed:

  • Consumer Spending
  • Education
  • Health
  • Working Locales

The driving force behind these changes is the need to stay away from others to avoid catching the virus. But there are derivative benefits from these enforced separations that will result in them becoming permanent.

1. Consumer Spending

In an earlier piece, I documented the move from in-person shopping to online purchasing. The purpose at the time was to document the labor-saving impact of the switch. The pandemic pressures to “distance” will only accelerate this move. In Table 1, Bluecore reports the increase in online sales by category for before and after the pandemic hit.

Table 1. - Online Purchase Growth by Sector

(Source: Bluecore)

Food shopping is going through a transformation. How long ago was it that food halls were popular? No longer. What has grown during the pandemic? Pick-up, takeout, and delivery. People have even become uneasy about paying at registers in markets. I quote from a recent piece in The Boston Globe:

... avoiding checkouts entirely by shopping online is likely to grow in popularity and market share. With brick-and-mortar stores shuttered, there has been an unprecedented surge in online shopping, with transaction volumes in most retail sectors seeing a 74 percent increase in March, compared to the same period last year, according to ACI Worldwide, an electronic payments processing company.

This article was written by

Elliott R. Morss profile picture
Elliott Morss has spent most of his career teaching and working as an economic consultant to developing countries on issues of trade, finance, and environmental preservation. Dr. Morss received a B.A. from Williams College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in political economy from The Johns Hopkins University in 1963. He has taught at the University of Michigan, Harvard, Boston University, Brandeis, and most recently at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires. For several years, he worked in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund. He later helped establish Development Alternatives, Inc. (dai.com), a firm that became the largest contractor to the U.S. foreign assistance program (AID). Since his first IMF assignment in Ghana in 1966, he has worked in 45 countries. He has been the President of the Asia-Pacific Group, a British Virgin Islands for profit company with investments in Cambodia, China, and Myanmar. With Dr. Zhu Jia-Ming, he established Green China, an American NGO with the mission to increase the dialogue in China on the trade-offs between economic growth and environmental preservation. Dr. Morss has co-authored six books and published more than 50 articles in professional journals. He is currently available for consulting assignments.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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