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Covid, Politics and Job Growth Cloud 2021 Outlook

The economy, Covid-19 and job growth.

Those are the top three election concerns, at 85 percent, 76 percent and 72 percent, respectively, according to a UBS survey.

But before either the economy or even job growth have a shot at any chance of improvement, it’s still the coronavirus pandemic that takes center stage in determining what the future holds.

“The number one factor is what happens to the course of the virus. Do we get a big resurgence? Will it lead to some localized restrictions or nearly national restrictions? Do consumers pull back on their own? [And] what constitutes a second wave? Will we try to be more targeted in closures?” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, addressing the key concerns going forward.

How we answer those questions, or what elected governmental officials determine the game plan going forward should be, will impact what other hits the economy might get, which in turn could have affect job creation, House added.

“We are learning to live with this and do business. Mask wearing does allow more commerce to continue on. It’s not a panacea, of course, but it is helping to adjust where there are bigger case numbers. In the past couple of months that has been rising, but [economic activity continues to pick up as well,” House said.

Covid-19 is expected to remain with us globally through the winter months, meaning its existence and how it evolves could still impact the upcoming holiday selling season. Retailers are already starting early promotions to get consumers to shop early, mostly to ensure their goods are in hand and under the tree with plenty of time to spare, since shipping delays are expected to snarl the season. And some retailers have said they have very carefully been fine-tuning their buying, translating to possibly fewer goods on shelves in a bid to sidestep massive post-holiday clearance markdowns.

For more on how Covid could continue to impact the economy, the job market ahead, how apparel supply chains can cope with the new normal, and what retail and apparel firms should be considering as they plan for the first half of 2021, tune into Sourcing Journal’s Virtual Sourcing Summit next week. The panel on “Economic Outlook: The State of Prices, Spending and Market Conditions” will feature House as well as Michael Brown, partner at Kearney, and Chris Rogers, global trade and logistics analyst for Panjiva, on Thursday, Oct. 15, from 11:10 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. Secure your ticket here.