In parallel to the origination of the mainstream 'drive in' cinema during the 1930's depression, they and other 'drive in' leisure experiences have risen to the fore during this COVID-19 crisis. This article in the Economist looks at a range of car borne events that have accelerated across the world in response to the requirement for social distancing and the benefits that can result, be they financial or simply keeping the consumer engaged.
As I highlighted in my last post there is a real dichotomy between the implementation of social distancing and jump starting the leisure and restaurant sectors, which at their heart are sociable and to some extent 'crowd' based events. There are also the underlying challenges of global warming, pollution and congestion on our roads which are exacerbated by frequent car use. But what are we to do? We are told to keep off public transport where social distancing is challenging and so revert to our cars to the detriment of the environment and our health, oh yes and also to our wallets with the increase to London's congestion charge....
So is the promotion of car borne leisure activities a good or a bad thing and will this continue into the future?
I talked about the opportunity for landlords of leisure schemes and their anchor cinema tenants to look at drive in cinemas in the existing car parks as a way to jointly generate revenue whilst traditional cinemas are closed. I still maintain this is a credible idea but one, knowing cinemas are unlikely to ever return to normal before year end, or even beyond any form of vaccine.
Some landlords of large retail parks are certainly looking at drive in cinemas as an additional attraction and not just for the short term but a 'new attraction' in their own right, a different experience from the 'old way' to view films. This has to be commended and I hope continues to prove popular longer term.
With the reports of people queuing in their cars for over a mile for McDonald's when their drive thru's re-opened at the weekend it is clear that our love affair with the car is perhaps, for some of us, greater than our passion for home delivery. Is it because the food is 'arguably' fresher, is it because we want to get out and about and combine that desire with a food shop, is it impulse, the list of explanations probably goes on...
But where does all this lead us? I think it probably culminates in our desire to have 'choices' and for something to succeed it needs to be done well and accessible via a number of channels of delivery, be it food, film or experience. And also the need for providers of that experience to take risks in a changing 'norm' to keep our attention and business.