What does luxury look like in 2020?
What is luxury? The very concept is subjective, and our definition is a moving target. That’s especially true this year when we lost a lot of the comforts we’re accustomed to in daily life. This year, health and personal space have become central to luxury. For many, still having a job or a home is a luxury. Being together with friends and family during the holidays has always been a given. Now, even that is a luxury. It’s led us to re-examine what we take for granted and what’s really important to us.
Financially speaking, if your industry has been relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s a luxury. You might be working from home now, but if you still have a job and the same salary, that’s a win. The stress of having kids at home trying to do online school while you’re trying to work can be overwhelming. But parents have also reported how nice it is to be around for the little moments with their children they previously missed.
If you’re in the tech or delivery business, you might be making more money than you were in the before times. If you still have a job, you probably still have a 401(k). Considering that the stock market is outpacing the economy, owning stock is a luxury right now, one enjoyed by a small majority of Americans. You might even have a realistic plan for retirement, which is a luxury in itself.
If you still have a job, you probably still also have health insurance through your employer. Given the dangers of the novel coronavirus and the expense of health care in general, this is another luxury that we might not have considered one before. As we explore in this issue, mental health and mental healthcare are luxuries in such an emotionally exhausting time. The already burgeoning wellness industry has only gotten bigger during the pandemic. During the tense week of election ballot tallying, wellness app Calm made a cheeky splash sponsoring CNN’s coverage.
Physical health has been an issue too. Regular gym-goers have had their routines disrupted at some point during the year. Perhaps you’ve been able to go back, perhaps not. If not, you’ve had to figure out a home routine. That has made gadgets such as Peloton and Mirror in-demand luxury items.
There are other things that are a luxury right now, in line with the traditional finer things, but with a special 2020 twist. Travel is one. The list of countries Americans can visit is slowly growing, with Mexico and many Caribbean islands open, along with some European countries, a few Asian ones, and several places in Africa accepting travelers. It’s probably not a good idea to be as ostentatious about it as Kim Kardashian’s 40th birthday bash, but there are places we can go. Some Caribbean nations are even offering residencies where you can work remotely and live on an island for a year. They pair well with school-cation packages offered at some resorts.
Sales of luxury items are way down this year, but a rebound is expected. With nowhere to go, we haven’t really felt like getting all dressed up. When the rebound does occur, companies will be making money a lot differently than they did before, with a focus on e-commerce and sustainability in supply chains.
We shall see how the economic recovery progresses as we enter 2021. After a year that at one point saw even having enough toilet paper as a luxury, simply having peace of mind is perhaps the ultimate one. So this month, take a minute to take stock of the good things you have. You might find that you’re richer than beyond your wildest dreams.