Vaccinated? Bay Area’s Comeback Brings Injection of Hope to Relocating Talents

Things are looking up in California, especially the Bay Area. With COVID-19 cases dropping and fully vaccinated Californians rising at 45%, the target of fully reopening the Californian economy on June 15 has been set. 

The state has reportedly regained nearly half of jobs lost in the pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a $267 billion budget designed to reverse nearly all of the proposed budget cuts and tax hikes — a progressive dream, some would say. There’s still a lot of work to do but the Bay Area is also leading the hiring of talents as well, even if there were some movements elsewhere. 

Still, recent news of Google investing $200 million in San Jose as part of its Downtown West Development dedicated to preventing resident displacement and creating more economic opportunity is a stabilizing force and a resounding argument for people to stay put or move in.

California Corporate Housing continues to keep adding new corporate apartments for global mobility managers and employers to book their recent hires. 

Expat vaccination outlook

Some countries have also opened up, which have given people an injection of hope, as IBM’s recent study was titled. The consequent free movement of people, with many of them heading to the Bay Area for work, will help California’s economy rebound. Expats are only too willing to relocate even in this pandemic, studies reveal.  

However, their respective countries will have to figure out how they can have their populations fully vaccinated for them to travel and relocate. According to an Economic Intelligence Union report, the US, the UK, and the EU are expected to vaccinate most of their populations by late 2021. However, 85 developing countries won’t achieve widespread vaccination until 2023—if at all, which would be to the disadvantage of talents looking to move to the Bay Area.

The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is still unknown, but many epidemiologists have suggested 60 to 70 percent as a reasonable range. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading epidemiologist in the US, has indicated the number could be as high as 85%, the IBM report stated. 

Based on a February survey, most respondents say that vaccination levels will need to exceed 70% in order for them to feel comfortable returning to life as it was before the pandemic. Assuming current rollout rates, that means many people will not regain pre-pandemic comfort levels until well into 2022.

Travel is on the horizon

Travel has yet to rebound, but there are promising signs. In IBM’s survey, it found that roughly 1.5 times more vaccinated people expect to take an overnight trip in the next 6 months. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 25-to-39-year-old respondents are 62% more likely to travel in the first 6 months following their vaccination than people who are over 55.

This implies that, as vaccination efforts ramp up around the world, hotels and resorts can expect to see an influx of eager guests excited to enjoy their immunity. And it’s possible that people who plan to travel in the next 6 to 12 months would move that date up if they received a vaccine earlier than expected.

The vaccine is expected to reinvigorate professional travel, increasing the number of people comfortable travelling for business 2 to 4 times in most countries. 

While there are portions of each consumer segment that can be won over with the right approach, companies will be competing for a smaller number of travelers as the year unfolds. Differentiation through the customer experience, loyalty programs, personalization, and other unique offerings could become even more critical for businesses than they were before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, consumers are rethinking the way they want to work, socialize, travel, and shop. They’re considering more factors before they make their decisions, and some are opting out of non-essential activities entirely.

Battle for market share

For businesses, that means the battle for market share has become fiercer, with companies fighting for pieces of a smaller pie. Some businesses will benefit from these shifting priorities—and others will need to find new ways to compete.

But according to the IBM survey, the tides are turning for this struggling sector. About 73% of respondents that typically visited shopping malls and centers before the pandemic indicated that they will return to those stores once vaccinated. Some are already doing just that.

While consumers will not abandon the online shopping options they’ve become accustomed to using during the pandemic, they expect to buy items in-store and bring them home much more often. For example, Target reportedly boosted sales at 20.5% over the same time frame in brick-and-mortar stores in January.

Shoppers are looking to freshen up their homes and wardrobes with new items—perhaps in anticipation of hosting guests or hitting the town. Across categories, furniture, personal care, and household products are doing well. (Dennis Clemente)