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5 post-COVID socio-economic trends to watch in 2021

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Economies could look very different after the Coronavirus pandemic. New business models, ways of working and societal attitudes are emerging - but will they last?

Post-COVID virtual team meeting

COVID-19 forced drastic changes on businesses, households and governments. The long-term socio-economic consequences would be profound if any were to stick. But the empirical reality of the pandemic’s impacts has defied predictions at every turn. Business and economic plans should factor in the new trends and the uncertainty around how these will interact and play out in practice. Here is PolicyDepartment’s take on 5 of the big ones to watch…

  1. More competition for jobs among young people. In the UK 18-24 year-olds are more likely to have been furloughed during the COVID crisis in 2020 than any other age group. At the same time, online listings for graduate roles fell by almost double the rate for all jobs.

  2. Growing reliance of large employers on digital infrastructure. Through COVID, technology has helped organisations to complete a growing number of tasks with teams spread across the globe. But it is the quality of local digital infrastructure and services that underpins this.

  3. De-coupling of online and high-street retailing. In 2019 50% of UK internet retail sales were tethered to physical shops through ‘click and collect’ and in-store ordering. Pandemic restrictions on movement lessened this dependency as the share of online in retail grew.

  4. Working at distance, spending near home. If in 2021 home-working rates settled at halfway between the pre and post-lockdown peaks, the UK’s ‘permanent’ work-at-home population would increase by 6 million – more than the population of Denmark.

  5. Growing importance to homebuyers of space to work and play. Homebuyers have always valued space and access to amenities. COVID-19 reinforced this for many. Market intelligence suggests a growing preference for properties with gardens and easy access to public green areas.

Download full briefing below.

PolicyDepartment briefing on post-COVID socio-economic trends to watch in 2021


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