It has now been a little over a year since the first COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns were implemented in the United States, with California having implemented the first stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020. LPL Research can now use high-frequency data to compare where we are now to the early days of the pandemic.
“Much of the real-time data is showing huge improvements from where we were a year ago as U.S. consumers are venturing back out to restaurants, theaters and airports,” said LPL Financial Equity Strategist Jeff Buchbinder. ”While most data is still well below pre-pandemic levels, the mostly successful vaccination rollout is boosting consumer confidence which should aid the pace of economic recovery.”
One of the most extreme examples of the impact of reopening in the high-frequency data, compared with where we were a year ago, is box office receipts at U.S. theaters. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, gross box office receipts are up 424,966% versus the same weekend in 2020. Despite this huge year-over-year increase, revenues are still down 88% versus pre-pandemic 2019 levels. In perhaps a microcosm of how technology has changed the business environment for many companies during the last year, the highest-grossing movie last weekend, Raya and the Last Dragon, was also simultaneously released on Disney’s streaming service.
Data on the number of people passing through U.S. airports have also shown a dramatic increase year over year; passengers are now up 80% compared to the very depressed numbers a year ago. Again, the overall levels of passengers are much lower than pre-COVID-19 levels with rolling average daily numbers currently at 1.3 million passengers compared to 2.4 million for the same period in 2019.
Restaurant bookings as measured by OpenTable, appear to also be benefiting from increased confidence from consumers and rolling back of local restrictions, in the last week restaurants registered the most bookings relative to pre-pandemic levels. The latest data shows the last week had just 28% fewer bookings than the same period in 2019 and that compared to the same period in 2020 bookings are up 26,000%.
The real-time data is indicating we have come a long way in the last year, but there is still some way to go to get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity in many areas of the economy. COVID-19 still presents a lingering near-term risk, with variants of the virus adding to the worry, but the robust recovery in the real-time data, along with vaccine distribution, fiscal and monetary stimulus, have our confidence high for an economic recovery. Sharp moves higher in interest rates pose a risk of equity valuations contracting meaningfully, though we see that as unlikely. We expect interest rates to stabilize in the near term and begin to fade as a concern for the bull market.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change. References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All index and market data from FactSet and MarketWatch. This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor that is not an LPL affiliate, please note LPL makes no representation with respect to such entity.
- Not Insured by FDIC/NCUA or Any Other Government Agency
- Not Bank/Credit Union Guaranteed
- Not Bank/Credit Union Deposits or Obligations
- May Lose Value
For Public Use – Tracking1-05125721