The Return of the Suburban Commute?

Matt and I talk about strategic scenarios and trends often, which is a requirement for a consulting firm. One discussion we engaged in the other day was about a “return to the suburbs.” For quite some time the trend has been (or at least has been reported to be) toward concentrated urban “rental” living and utilization of public transportation. The underlying assumption going along with that trend is that today’s modern consumer needs neither home (ownership) nor car. Matt and I were considering whether that sentiment will remain a “truth” in light of today’s virus experiences.

In some quarters the emerging consumer sentiment being shared suggests changing attitudes. Just this morning, for example, I watched one interview where the subject stated that consumers are starting to think “I want to drive my own car, control who I’m sitting next to, who I let in…” This thought was shared in the context of a conversation about ride hailing, and crowded subways and city buses. I imagine those living in concentrated high rise buildings may be thinking the same kind of thing when contemplating daily elevator rides.

Of course, we of course don’t know how exactly this pandemic experience will really shape and influence actual consumer behavior, but we can be certain there are baseline scenarios that could become real situations. The challenge now, for all credit unions, is to define the various scenarios that could materialize, and plan how to respond to those likely to occur and/or impact credit union business.

Thinking of the year or two ahead, what do you think the trends might be? Will we see a boom in auto purchases? Will we see increasing demand for single family homes – with more rather than fewer rooms (work-from-home office anyone)? Will we see urban flight? Or something else entirely – such as sustained unemployment and credit deterioration, repossessions, foreclosures, inertia?

Each of these most basic scenarios present great opportunity, and considerable threat. What a time to be planning for the future! But before the panic sets in, consider this well-worn but insightful quote I believe is attributed to Marcus Aurelius:

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

With the weapon of reason, and guided by a credit union cooperative business model, you undoubtedly have what you need to prepare, and prepare well!


PS: Here’s a tip for you. When you are defining trends and scenarios … rate them according to business impact, and level of uncertainty (we use a ten-point impact/uncertainty scale in our work with clients). The exercise allows for the separation of trends and scenarios that require a response from those that don’t. This is where you leverage reason, and reduce risk/opportunity overload in your planning processes. If you need help managing this kind of planning, let us know.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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