Viewpoint: Diary of a spectacle designer
Tom Davies thinks that the vaccinations will lead to a boom in consumer spending despite his mother’s more gloomy analysis
Author: Tom Davies
I just checked back in my diary to March 2020 to get a reminder of what life was like before Covid.
At the start of March I was having dinner in a posh club near Covent Garden with an optician from America. In fact my diary was full of dinners, which seems alien now. Among other stand out events in my diary for March 2020, before the doom, was a photoshoot for the new brands I was going to launch that month (that took place but was never used), and patch testing at a clinic to see if I could get rid of some freckles (don’t know what I was thinking). I can also see football matches, lunches, haircuts, pubs, board meetings and a flight to New York. None of those things went ahead and have also scarcely taken place since.
It felt very much like the end of days as the Prime Minister told us all to stay at home, but at that point only 350 people had died. Indeed, one year ago... everything changed. The great reset?
As a nation we were still polarised by Brexit. At least Covid seems to have unified us. There is a bit of a split going on with the anti-maskers and Covid deniers versus the rest of us, but these people clearly don’t have to work on the front line. Which brings me neatly to my main topic this month – vaccinations. All my staff were offered one. I did wonder if I could take it as well, since I’ve been working part time in my stores for the past two months but I didn’t dare ask.
I put out a question to various Facebook groups and I’ve had over 100 accounts respond, which represents about 400 people. I realise this is anecdotal at best but here’s what I learned.
Around the world I didn’t have one single optician who hasn’t had the vaccination respond saying they didn’t want it. Very few (only one in fact) had staff refuse the jab. I was surprised how many opticians had been vaccinated outside the UK. I know that in the UK, the GOC and AOP have been giving us regular updates and helping members get protection but I’d have expected opticians in France or Germany, for example, to be struggling to get a jab. Everyone has been well served and informed by their various organisations across the world it seems.
In America, almost all opticians reported having the Pfizer jab and also that they already had received both doses. In the UK, there was about a 80:20 split in favour of Pfizer but only a lucky few had yet had their second jab.
On a personal level, I’d heard of people having the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab getting sick for over a week, but on my Facebook groups this was not the case. Both jabs were associated with stiff arms, flu-like symptoms for 48 hours or nothing at all, in equal measure.
There are some who report that the second jab was worse than the first but nothing too dramatic. So as an industry, we seem well covered to start up again. To get business moving and start attracting customers back into our stores.
So opticians are okay. That’s good. But really, what about the rest of the population? It’s no good us being ready if people are afraid to visit us. It’s Mother’s Day as I write this and as I Zoomed with my mum I asked what she thought about the end of lockdown. ‘How do you mean?’ she asked. ‘Well, when do you think we will get back to normal?’ ‘Never,’ said my mum glumly as she pointed out Europe is going into a third wave.
I don’t believe that. I personally think the vaccinations are going to give us back our freedom. I think that when the sun is out and the lockdown is over, we will have forgotten the worst of it. Once we are meeting up socially and the economy starts to move again, there will be ‘revenge spend’. The general mood on my Facebook is rather optimistic about this. Reading back the responses was exciting, people are buzzing, the big bounce back is coming they say. Are you ready? Time to stock up on British eyewear brands, I say.