Over the previous yr, we began determining easy methods to dwell in an (virtually) post-pandemic world. Behaviors that after appeared unnatural — working from residence, dwelling extra digitally, feeling grateful for fundamentals we as soon as took with no consideration — turned second nature.
In 2022, we’re prepared for what’s subsequent. And one factor’s for positive: We’re not going again to the outdated methods. So what can we count on from the brand new regular?
Right here, consultants give their predictions for the approaching yr.
ROBOTIC RESTAURANT WORKERS
Workers shortages at eating places are solely getting worse — in keeping with the National Restaurant Association, three out of each 4 restaurant homeowners can’t retain sufficient servers — however demand for in-person eating is returning. What are restaurateurs to do? Rent robots.
Final summer season, the Cuban restaurant Sergio’s in Miami, Florida, launched the most recent member of their workers, Servi — created by Silicon Valley firm Bear Robotics. Servi, which delivers meals and clears soiled dishes, is leased by Sergio’s for round $999 a month — or about $2 to $3 an hour together with set up and assist — and doesn’t settle for ideas.
Flippy, a burger-flipping robotic from Miso Robotics, made its debut in 2018 at Pasadena-based burger chain CaliBurger, however was fired after at some point for flipping burgers too quick. In November, Miso unveiled Flippy 2, a sleeker and extra impartial model of the kitchen robotic, which is poised to formally be part of the meals trade workforce later this yr.
“I believe the large distinction in 2022 is that we’ll doubtless see precise manufacturing deployment of particular gadgets, resembling French fry or pizza robots,” stated Jim Collins, President of Excellent Firm, a number one supplier of expertise options for the restaurant and hospitality industries.
Including robots isn’t nearly streamlining the cooking course of. “It may really free the kitchen staff to focus extra on creativity and innovation,” stated Collins. “There are advantages to expertise that transcend high quality and consistency.”
Since their debut within the ’80s, minivans have by no means been cool. They’ve been synonymous with soccer mothers and thought of the final resort for households not hip sufficient to afford an SUV. However one thing modified in 2021, with minivan gross sales leaping 84 %, in keeping with a Cox Automotive report. New minivan fashions — just like the much-touted 2022 Kia Carnival (above), described by critics as “sexy” — have the identical sliding doorways and excessive seats beloved by suburbanites, however now include a rugged, trendy design.
A part of the minivan renaissance is due to COVID. “Minivans converse to our present, pandemic-induced want to concurrently cocoon and escape,” stated automotive journalist and minivan fanatic Brett Berk. “They’re actually a lounge on wheels.”
Berk additionally factors to a generational shift. “For Gen-Xers who have been weaned on station wagons, the practicality of minivans are a revelation,” he stated. “And they are often knowingly, slyly contrarian. Like sporting wide-wale corduroy blazers, they’re so uncool, they’re cool.”
After sitting at residence for almost two years, singles are “craving journey and are up for something,” stated Talia Goldstein, the founder and president of matchmaking service Three Day Rule.
At present’s daters crave greater than dinner and a film, and so they’re prepared to journey additional than a cab experience can take them. “Pre-pandemic daters would request a radius of 10 miles,” Goldstein says. “Now, shoppers are open to nationwide matches and even relocating for the suitable match.”
Tinder Passport, a premium characteristic that enables customers to match with singles across the globe, has been round since 2015 however peaked in reputation final yr. In 2021, Tinder members “passported” to a median of 4 cities and two international locations. And 76 % made matches in a rustic that speaks a language totally different than their very own.
“To keep away from flirtations getting misplaced in translation, we’ve partnered with [language-learning platform] Duolingo to provide 100,000 Tinder members a free month of Duolingo Plus,” stated a spokesperson for the corporate.
Gone are the times when merchandising machines solely offered soda, snacks or cigarettes. Now, a brand new wave of small enterprise homeowners are utilizing them to promote all the things from $30 mini-bottles of champagne (Fort Lauderdale) to 45 varieties of onerous pretzels (Delray Seaside) to butcher-cut uncooked meat (Tampa). Northern Michigan just lately opened the primary 24-hour goat cheese merchandising machine, launched by goat creamery Idyll Farms. And hashish merchandising machines have popped up in California and Colorado. A Japanese airline, Peach Aviation, has even began promoting “thriller” home flights from its merchandising machines. (Clients don’t decide the place they’re going, the routes are assigned randomly.)
Pizza merchandising machines have turn out to be particularly standard — even in Rome, Italy (above) — with a whole bunch showing across the nation simply final yr. On the San Antonio International Airport, a pizza merchandising machine — which may cook dinner 10-inch brick-oven pizza in just some minutes — was added in late 2021 as a result of terminal eating places “have been having a troublesome time hiring certified staff,” stated Jennifer Mills Pysher, the airport’s Chief Industrial Officer.
The machine was so standard Pysher stated they hope so as to add extra merchandising machines throughout the airport and within the baggage ready space, with a wide selection of choices like “espresso, ramen, smoothies, contemporary salads and sandwiches. And we actually need a cupcake machine!”
Rubber sneakers are having a second. Puddle Boots, a vivid and chunky tackle the basic rain boot created by Italian luxurious model Bottega Veneta (above), are flying off cabinets, with followers together with Justin Bieber and “Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross. Crocs, the froth clog so ugly that Time journal as soon as named them one of many world’s “worst innovations,” has seen gross sales climb 65 % since 2020, after a largely stagnant decade. Questlove wore a gold pair of Crocs to the 2021 Grammys, and celebrated sneaker designer Salehe Bembury launched his tackle the Crocs model in December.
Retail strategist Liza Amlani predicts that rubber sneakers will “catapult to new heights” in 2022, and never simply because the notorious footwear is so snug and reasonably priced, with a median worth of round $45.
Rubber shoe makers are “aligning their values with prospects on sustainability,” says Amlani. The Puddle Boot is Bottega’s first piece made with biodegradable polymer, and Crocs will introduce its first sneakers manufactured from biodegradable supplies this yr, vowing to turn out to be net-zero-carbon by 2030.
The pandemic very almost rang the loss of life knell for malls — visitation nationwide was down 91 % in April 2020 — however in keeping with transportation-data firm INRIX, customer numbers for malls in 2021 have been up 5 % over pre-pandemic ranges.
Retailers are returning too — Toys “R” Us opened a brand new flagship retailer contained in the American Dream mall in Bergen County, NJ, its first since closing all shops in 2018 — and real-estate brokerage agency CBRE predicts that 2022 will see a 10-year excessive for retail shops leasing at malls.
Some malls are providing perks to lure consumers again. At American Dream, you may brunch with SpongeBob or store with a “style trade icon” for simply $3,000. “Procuring continues to be a social exercise,” stated retail marketing consultant Georganne Bender. “In a world the place many retailers promote the identical factor, the expertise has turn out to be extra necessary than the product.”
Minnesota’s Mall of America, the biggest mall on the continent, has tried to provide prospects “one thing they will’t discover on-line,” says Jill Renslow, who’s govt vice chairman of enterprise improvement on the venue. That features all the things from yoga studios to luxurious resorts on website.
However the actual draw, curiously sufficient, has been inconveniences that on-line purchasing was speculated to get rid of. Though 2021’s Black Friday was a weeklong affair, with offers not confined to a single day, “we nonetheless noticed individuals wait in line early within the morning on Friday,” stated Renslow. “They needed the standard kickoff to the vacation purchasing season.”
Brick-and-mortar universities have been compelled to take their programs on-line through the pandemic, and now distant studying is more and more turning into the norm. On-line enrollment for undergraduates, by which college students take both some or all of their lessons on-line, rose by 367 percent this year, in keeping with the Nationwide Middle for Schooling Statistics.
On-line MBAs aren’t all the time low-cost, topping out at $140,000 at Carnegie Mellon College. However many faculties are providing steep reductions for online-only college students. On the College of North Texas, as an illustration, the common annual tuition for out-of-state graduate college students is $31,540. However for a web-based MBA, the estimated whole price for your entire program is simply $19,464.
“The pandemic accelerated traits that have been already in progress,” stated Betty Vandenbosch, chief content material officer at Coursera, an online-only training platform based by Stanford professors. She cites a recent survey that discovered two-thirds of scholars need extra on-line instruction.
“It’s not vital for 400 college students to sit down in a lecture corridor for 2 hours when a recorded video lecture might be as efficient,” stated Vandenbosch.
And it’s what employers need, too. Sean Gallagher, a Northeastern College professor and creator of “The Future of University Credentials,” just lately carried out an upcoming examine, surveying 1000’s of C-suite executives. “They’re now extra receptive to hiring individuals who earned academic credentials on-line,” he stated.
Pet adoptions reached an all-time excessive through the pandemic, and now that restrictions are loosening, individuals don’t wish to discover the world with out their new greatest associates.
Analytics firm Zeta Global discovered that “pet-friendliness” was the highest search precedence for vacationers seeking to guide journeys in 2022. It was “extra necessary than resort cleanliness,” says Eric Bamberger, Zeta World’s senior vice chairman of hospitality.
Journey corporations are actually shifting to accommodate animals, from Airbnb introducing AirCover insurance coverage to guard hosts from pet harm, to Hilton Accommodations increasing extra
properties to be completely pet friendly.
“I think that extra manufacturers will observe Hilton’s lead,” stated journey psychologist Kate Cummins. “Individuals have reprioritized their wants through the pandemic, and staying related to issues they love, resembling their pets, might be one thing we see individuals want within the upcoming yr with journey.”
With the rise of pandemic-era binge-watching, popcorn gross sales are up 9 percent in 2021, in keeping with market-research agency Info Assets, Inc. And prospects aren’t simply shopping for the microwave snack that’s been round for many years.
New and typically weird popcorn flavors have overtaken the market, infusing kernels with all the things from Cheetos-dust to booze. Celebs like Scottie Pippen and the Jonas Brothers are actually promoting their very own popcorn manufacturers, and in November, late night time host Stephen Colbert created a two-minute commercial for a small Minnesota popcorn store, narrated by Nick Offerman, who effused, “Rattling, these things is nice.”
AMC Leisure, the biggest movie-theater chain within the US, just lately introduced plans to start out promoting their popcorn — they make round 50 tons of it every day — in shops and mall kiosks across the nation. They’re additionally launching a popcorn delivery service so you may munch away on the motion pictures within the consolation of your own home.
It stays to be seen if different film chains observe AMC’s lead, however retail strategist Amlani suspects that in 2022, “popcorn may turn out to be the brand new pizza.”
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