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How soon do we get back to normal?

SEMA’s market research department publishes 48-page ‘Future Trends’ projection

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So, what’s the new normal and how soon does it arrive? How soon will be traveling again to car shows and auctions? And when can we shed these masks and once again shake hands, perhaps even give our car friends a hardy hug?

While admitting that it cannot predict the future, the market research department at SEMA, the Speciality Equipment Market Association, has compiled a 48-page “Future Trends” document full of graphs and charts and citing a variety of sources while presenting three scenarios for 2021 and beyond.

There are the Optimistic Scenario, the Pessimistic Scenario and the Projected Scenario. The Projected Scenario is the one SEMA’s researchers think is the most likely path forward, with a 55 percent chance of taking place. SEMA rates Optimistic at 20 percent and Pessimistic at 25 percent likelihood.

In the Projected Scenario, coronavirus lockdowns remain in place early in 2021, as many as 200 million people are vaccinated by the end of the year, and “normal business operations” resume by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

Key for the collector car community in the Projected Scenario may be the statement that in-person events return by September 2021, albeit with some safety measures remaining in place. 

Even then, keys to economic recovery include the effectiveness of the vaccines and their rollout, on how soon governments relax restrictions, on federal stimulus to jump start commerce, and on consumer reaction to all of the above.

For the sake of comparison, the Optimistic Scenario has “herd immunity,” as many as 200 million people vaccinated, by late in the second quarter of this year and in-person events resuming in July. The Pessimistic Scenario includes a delay in distribution or the ineffectiveness of the vaccines, and a subsequent delay in in-person events until mid-2022, and still with safety measures required.

For the collector car community, the Projected Scenario would seem to indicate that you want to be sure to have refundable travel reservations for events taking place until late summer/early fall, that even then you’re likely to be masked and socially distanced, but at least you can give your buddies an elbow bump as you admire their cars in person.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Normal is only a setting on your dryer. The Collector Car world has changed along with all Sports. The Businesses that paid large sums of money in sponsorship fees found other ways to promote their product and likely saved advertising money or put in other media. They won’t be back at the same level.
    So, let’s focus on the new normal. What do you want to see. More museums? More outside events at great locations? More local cars and coffee? More shows like Jay Leno’s Garage or Audrain Museum. Now is the time to move the Collector Car world to a new place!

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