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The End of Bricks and Mortar Stores is Nigh as Online Shopping Enters a New Era in The Coronavirus Economy

by John Brian Shannon

Those who fail to change with the times become obsolete. Just ask the dinosaurs.

Some dinosaur groups morphed into new species that allowed them to continue to live and procreate in a changed environment and we see examples of them today in our world; Today’s birds are descended from Pterodactyls, today’s crocodiles from Stegosaurus, and today’s kimono lizards are descended from Squamata (Megachirella wachtleri) which is the father of all lizards and snakes on the planet today.

The species that didn’t adapt quickly to the then-changing conditions on the Earth, died. And the ones that did change, changed slowly, consequently they exist on the Earth in smallish populations unlike their ancestors which had until then, enjoyed total dominance on this world.

If science isn’t your thing, you might look to anthropology (the study of human societies and cultures and their development) for some examples of this rule and you’ll see those that couldn’t adapt got left behind.

One example of this is the Indus Valley civilization which flourished from 7000 to 1900 BC. Although we see traces of their existence in archaeological sites, they are no more. Another example would be the Mongol civilization (1206 to 1294 AD) Seen any lately? More recently, we witnessed the end of the German Nazi Party circa 1945.


Prediction: Businesses that Don’t Learn to Sell Online (Successfully) Will Fail within 24-Months – Everywhere on Earth

Any retail store — including grocery stores — that don’t evolve quickly enough to meet the demands of the new ‘Coronavirus economy’ are sure to fail. And I have no sympathy for them. None whatsoever. ‘Change with the times or die’ is the nature of all commerce.

There’s no excuse good enough to not have a robust internet e-commerce site and multiple redundant delivery systems for your business, as every business owner knows about the internet, everyone knows how e-commerce websites work, and they’re not that expensive to create.

Indeed, you may have purchased something online, whether it was a hat, golf balls, or enough furnishings to equip your new office tower. (The link points to STAPLES.UK which has a sophisticated website that makes it easy to order any business related product or service quickly and efficiently. With STAPLES.UK shipping is free on orders over £36 and in most cases you receive your order within a couple of days of ordering) That’s the kind of commitment required to meet customer expectations in the new Coronavirus economy thereby allowing those businesses to thrive and prosper well into the 21st-century.

It isn’t difficult to create and maintain an online e-commerce presence. Yes, it takes a little work, but nothing too onerous. And yes, it does cost a little money to set up and operate, but again, those costs should be considered as part of the normal cost of doing business in the 21st-century.

It’s nothing but utter laziness if your company isn’t selling at least fifty per cent of its goods or services online in the 21st-century. It’s so easy to do. But it needs true leadership — which isn’t about nice-sounding speeches in shareholder meetings or at the company Christmas Party — it’s about the kind of leadership that gets it done by the end of the year, not by the end of the company, if you take my meaning.

If you think things haven’t changed profoundly, you’re not looking hard enough.

Many businesses want to get you into their store so you’ll be tempted to purchase so-called ‘impulse buy’ items — things you wouldn’t normally buy, but because you walked past an appealing display you were tempted to purchase. If your business model depends on that you’re already halfway to insolvency, because whether you like it or not, the old ways of doing business are already gone. Not next month, not next year, but now.

The old days of people milling around at the weekend and walking into your store by chance and buying things are over. The Coronavirus economy is here, and it isn’t going away. Ever.

Many people will catch the Coronavirus bug over the coming months and the ones that don’t die of it will become immune to that strain of the virus. We’re presently at COVID-19 (SARS Coronavirus 2019 variant) and there will no doubt be a COVID-20 (Coronavirus 2020 variant) and a COVID-21, and a COVID-22, etc., until the end of time.

“There are three to five emerging diseases every year, and only by luck and the grace of God that they don’t turn into pandemics each time.”William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

At the moment, COVID-19 is killing one to two per cent of those who contract the virus. But that’s a temporary situation until the virus mutates (and all viruses mutate) whereupon it will become more deadly — and those who’ve contracted COVID-19 may, I repeat may, have some immunity to a newer version of the virus. Fifty per cent immunity is typical among SARS virus survivors when a new version comes along, but you still get ill, and you still ‘go down’ for a few days, and you can still pass the new variant to others who breathe the same air as you. And the same holds true among MERS survivors.

In fact, I suggest that perhaps later this year, there will be people who haven’t yet caught the COVID-19 variant (and therefore have no immunity to subsequent COVID versions) and may contract a (likely more serious) COVID-20 version (which has yet to appear) and die within days or hours of contracting that new and more robust virus.

There will be people who contract both COVID versions at the same time, sorry to say.

There will be people who haven’t caught either variant and they will be ‘sitting ducks’ by simply walking into a store or subway landing with hundreds of other people, and thereby catch one or both viruses in the same week. And there will be people who catch the normal flu and while their immune system is barely coping with that, they’ll catch one or more SARS or MERS respiratory illnesses. They won’t last long and they’ll know it from Day One.

And that’s why most people will choose to dramatically and permanently alter their shopping habits, gravitating towards online shopping — instead of them playing Russian Roulette with their life every time they walk into a store or onto a train platform. Once people comprehend the enormity of the Coronavirus economy and the implications thereof, the ‘bricks & mortar store’ model will be dead.

Now, if you’re a serious fly fisherman or fly fisherwoman (for example) you’ll need to visit a bricks & mortar store at some point to do a few casts with a selection of rods and reels before you decide which one to purchase. Other situations may apply, as not everything can be easily purchased online.

In the near-future, well-managed stores will sell MORE goods and services online than they do now from all sources combined — and their staff will deal elusively with the Fed Ex driver and perhaps one in-store customer per day who needs to try out that rod and reel combination, or who needs to try-on that dress before purchasing.

Some stores will prosper as never before — and the ones that don’t accept a new business model will fail. Just as it should be.


Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way!

If you’re a business owner presently without a robust online e-commerce site, it’s time to pick up that phone today and get a new e-commerce website built. Otherwise, you’re gone by the end of the year, IMHO.

The retail world is about to change more profoundly than at any time since the first electrical grids appeared, when grid-powered heat and light in stores suddenly allowed workers the opportunity to shop at the end of their workday.

Some of you already and clearly see this new paradigm, some will realize it in the coming weeks, and some will cling to their horse and buggy thinking until the day they reach the Pearly Gates.

Regardless of when you see it, or whether you like it or not, change is coming to the retail world. Better get ready, as it’s going to get rough for businesses that don’t evolve to meet the demands of the new Coronavirus economy.


Related Articles:

  • World Health Organization Coronavirus Situation Reports webpage (WHO)
  • World Health Organization Situation report 25 March 2020 available here

Why ‘Herd Immunity’ Isn’t the Answer to Solve a Serious Pandemic

by John Brian Shannon

As I write this blog post (Saturday, March 14, 2020) there are 142,539 cases of the Novel Coronavirus variant 2019 (COVID-19) in the world and in some countries the total number of new cases continues to grow at a slow rate, yet in other countries the number of new cases is growing at a steady geometric rate, while in other countries new COVID-19 cases are growing at an exponential rate.

In places where COVID-19 is growing slowly, most countries have the capacity to deal with it and should see exactly as many cases treated as diagnosed. Where the virus is spreading at a geometric rate, only those healthcare systems with sufficient capacity will be able to handle that progressively larger daily number of cases, and where COVID-19 is growing at an exponential rate, about 2% of infected persons will die — because, so far, that’s the fatality rate for COVID-19 globally.

Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Situation Summary (updated daily)

Also as of today, there have been 5,393 deaths verified as COVID-19 fatalities — although, especially in developing countries — thousands of people die every day from all sorts of things and there isn’t the capability to test the cause of each and every death. Indeed, some 29,000 people die every day from hunger alone and if they can’t solve the hunger issue in their country, trying to find funding for millions of COVID-19 test kits must surely rank farther down their priority list.

Thus far, 135 countries have reported COVID-19 cases and a report out of China says that serious illness occurs in only 16% of cases. That kind of information helps to keep the illness rate for this virus in the proper perspective.


World Coronavirus cases, March 14, 2020

Global Coronavirus case countries, March 14, 2020. Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Europe is Now the Epicentre of COVID-19 Cases Due to their ‘Herd Immunity’ Health Paradigm

Much of Europe operates their healthcare systems by purposely not treating such conditions as influenza (the flu) and other contagions, which they think is the best way to facilitate their much-vaunted ‘Herd Immunity’ goals.

And in previous decades where the vast majority of contagious diseases had low fatality rates the ‘Herd Immunity’ option was worthwhile, as everyone who subsequently caught the virus and then later recovered were thereby and automatically permanently immunized by the (terrible) experience of becoming ill and recovering courtesy of the human body’s own immune system response. Healthcare systems liked it because it was and remains the cheapest way to ‘immunize’ the public against a mild virus.

But That Was Then, And This Is Now…

During the peak Baby Boomer years, most people were young, healthy, lived in a healthier environment, and often spent considerable time outdoors which can be beneficial for human health.

In 2020, a larger proportion of people are older, less healthy, and live in a less healthy environment — although, due to advanced healthcare in most countries, people also tend to live longer lives. And for that, you can thank modern healthcare.


Global Population Pyramid 1960 & 2020

Global population pyramid 1960-2020 comparisons


In 2020, We’re Living On Borrowed Time

Millions of people return from visiting abroad every year in 2020, therefore, our species is exposed to countless more contagions — and chief among them are respiratory diseases such as influenza, SARS and MERS viruses and more recently, the latest Novel Coronavirus (which itself is a SARS-type virus) and others such as the Zika virus that made headlines a few years ago after travelling from Egypt to the United States for the first time in recorded history.

All these viruses mutate over time, and it can happen that they mutate several times in a decade. Which doesn’t bode well for the future as we’re in a permanent state of being one mutation away from extinction or something approaching that. And the leaders of healthcare systems don’t want to admit it to themselves, nor do they want to be accused of spreading panic among the general population.

So, carry on blissfully, because one day a mutated SARS or MERS virus or some other mutated and highly contagious respiratory virus may spread across the globe in a matter of days and we’ll all die horribly! Won’t that be fun? 😉

If I had told you a month ago that a Novel Coronavirus was going to spread across the globe and that the United States was going to close its airspace to European aircraft and (after tomorrow night) stop those Americans stuck in Europe from returning and simultaneously close its border with Mexico, you would’ve laughed.

After all it has never happened in recorded history, although during the Spanish Influenza pandemic in 1918, had there been millions of people flying around on passenger aircraft every day, the United States and other developed countries may have ceased to exist as we know them.

“The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.
In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.
It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.” — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Now that particular H1N1 virus variant still exists and it continues to appear from time to time in human populations. You know it as ‘the flu’ which many people are resistant to on account of their ancestors catching H1N1-1918 and their immune systems creating antibodies to combat the disease which (the antibodies to H1N1-1918) are passed to their children via Mother’s milk which is loaded with antibodies for their infants.

But not everyone is resistant, nor has everyone the same amount of immunity. In 2020, the H1N1-1918 strain no longer kills millions of people per year. That’s a benefit of so-called ‘Herd Immunity’ — whomever doesn’t get killed by it develops some amount of immunity and can pass along the antibodies to their infant children.

It’s great when it works, although the fatality numbers can get high. But ‘Herd Immunity’ was as good a method as any in 1918 to prevent further outbreaks, because medical knowledge about viruses was low and the level of medical technology was even lower.


What if COVID-19 Fatality Rates Were the Same as Ebola or Other Viral Killers?

All Europeans would be dead by now, is the short answer and North Americans would be barely hanging on.

And there are two reasons for that; One, politicians were initially slow to get the message that a major healthcare crisis was on the way (and there’s a reason for that which we’ll discuss in a moment) and Two, Europeans prefer to ignore viruses because (although small numbers of deaths occur) it helps to build a ‘Herd Immunity’ within a given country (which only works where everyone doesn’t die or are permanently maimed by the virus)

Healthcare Systems are Permanently One-Week Behind Viral Transmission

It’s nobody’s fault that the world’s healthcare systems are at a supreme disadvantage when it comes to tracking viral outbreaks.

For example, it can take a week or even longer for a person to show any symptoms at all, while some people may remain asymptomatic (without symptoms) while still passing the virus on to others wherever they go.

Not only that, but once the first case is diagnosed (patient zero) it may be days or weeks before a similar case shows up on the system.

And further, those subsequent cases may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the original viral case which makes it difficult to associate those cases together as one virus or disease, in one database.

Consequently, once healthcare systems sufficiently ramp-up to handle the epidemic (‘pandemic’ once it crosses international boundaries) the virus will still hide from Doctors and Nurses for a week or more, and in some patients, months.

Which is why it can take time to nail down a rapidly-spreading virus, especially when it’s enabled by millions of people flying from country to country carrying the virus, and in some cases, showing no symptoms while still passing-on the contagion.


What Healthcare Systems Don’t Need is Politicians Adding Another Week or Two of Dither and Delay to the Equation

If leaders of countries refuse to make timely decisions about banning flights from affected countries, it stands to reason that their country will receive evermore carriers and spreaders of the virus, thereby creating more victims in their own country. Which gets costly for healthcare systems once it gets into the thousands or millions of patients.

But that’s only if those healthcare systems choose to treat those infected patients, or (as in the European Union) where they let it run its course through the general population in hopes that fatalities will be low and large numbers of people will gain immunity after plenty of suffering by infected persons.

It’s a dangerous way to proceed, IMHO, and it isn’t for the faint of heart; Hoping that it doesn’t mutate enroute from one city to another, and hoping that not too many people die as it hits the elderly and the infirm much harder than the typical healthy person.

As I said above, it could be argued that countries once had the moral right to follow a ‘Herd Immunity’ philosophy back when there were no real alternatives, but now, in this interconnected world where millions of people fly to and from everywhere on the planet every day of the year and viruses continue to mutate completely unaware of our views on the topic, and when a virus is identified and politicians then add one or two weeks to the equation before finally making the right decision (or at least, some of the right decisions) it’s like playing Russian Roulette with the global population.

We’re only one random genetic mutation from viral annihilation! (Probably unlikely in the short term, but we almost certainly will take a major hit by 2050) Still, we can lower fatalities and huge amounts of suffering now by not employing the “Herd Immunity’ philosophy during global pandemics.

Therefore, the so-called ‘Herd Immunity’ philosophy must end where novel viruses are concerned, and the weeks of political delay prior to taking practical steps to prevent massive spreading of infected persons must end. Or we homo sapiens, will end. One day.

Remember, wash your hands often, maintain a social distance of about six feet, don’t shake hands, and don’t go on a cruise ship if you’re aged or infirm. Other than that, have a great week everyone!


Notes:

Visit the World Health Organization webpage that displays up-to-the-minute situation reports here: WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019) Situation Reports


Situation report – 54 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) SitRep | Dated 14 March 2020
(This WHO link displays the most recent report as of March 14, 2020)


Why Global Markets Will Recover from Coronavirus Sooner, Rather Than Later

by John Brian Shannon

Every previous depression, recession, or one day sell-off has been caused by things like over-valued stocks, improper economic or financial policy, weak banking regulations, or some other economic, financial, or legal reason — therefore, those financial crashes were caused by an organization, a regulator, or a person, doing the wrong thing.

Consequently, the corrective action and the time lag involved to get the market up to where it once was, involved many months, or even years of tough slogging.

But in this case, nobody did anything wrong; There was no over-valuation, no wrong-headed government policy or weak banking regulatory environment, nor were there illegal actions by individuals behind the cause of this particular market adjustment. No matter the numbers… there’s only one reason for this massive and unprecedented market value writedown, and that is fear.

Fear of investors losing the value of their stocks (due to the Coronavirus scare) is the only thing that’s caused this financial meltdown — therefore, once that fear subsides at approximately the same speed as the Coronavirus subsides, the market should then respond very strongly and March 2020 will eventually register as a tiny blip on the year, and my guess is that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will return to 29,000 points or more by the end of 2020.

As no systemic economic, financial sector or banking regulatory problems are to blame for this particular crisis, global stock markets should rebound as soon as the Coronavirus has run its course.


Waiting for the Markets to Open on Monday With All the Money You Pulled Out of the Markets Before They Lost Value During the Coronavirus Scare? Nice!

Well, aren’t you sitting pretty! 😉

If you pulled all your money out two weeks ago, or even as late as week ago, you now have a pool of money that you’ve already made profit on, ready to reinvest in the market just at the time stocks are priced at fire-sale prices!

Oh, yes. Oh, yes, Oh, yes! You are a lucky investor indeed.

And I suspect that there are millions of such investors around the world at this time and I fully expect that once the Coronavirus has run its course through the population, investor confidence will return like a hurricane on steroids.

Think of all that investment hitting the markets over the next few weeks. ‘It’s a beautiful thing!’ as Donald Trump would say.


‘Buy Low, Sell High’

If I’m right (and we’ll soon see) it will demonstrate the perfect example of the ‘Buy Low & Sell High’ strategy that’s been making individual investors and institutional investors wealthy since there were rocks.

If you did wisely ‘cash out’ your stocks over the past two weeks, you can now buy even more of your favourite stocks at their new, low price due to the Coronavirus market event and watch them return to February’s highs and more in the coming months and years.

If millions of investors do this as I fully expect they will; March and April of this year should barely register as a blip on the financial calendar in only a few short months, and investors will reap significant rewards over the coming months and years. And, good on you for being such prudent investors!

Until then, wash your hands often, maintain proper social distancing of about six feet, and don’t go on a cruise ship if you’re aged or infirm. Other than that, happy days for investors will soon return!