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Reader survey attempts to measure consumer confidence in reopened Illinois

Buyers, workers will be part of joint effort to feel out new normal

Three simple questions with many complex answers.

Shaw Media Illinois on Wednesday afternoon posted a brief online survey to gauge sentiment regarding the state moving into the third phase of its economic restoration plan. The survey, through Tuesday, invites respondents to type detailed answers. The questions:

Do you plan on going to a bar or restaurant? What are your thoughts on that? 

Are you going to get your hair cut? What are your thoughts on this before you do? (Optional: When is the last time you got a haircut?)

Are you planning on meeting up with friends and family? What are your thoughts on keeping that group to 10 or fewer? 

There are some simple answers; mine are no, no and no. But that’s just the quick reaction from one privileged person. Hopefully thousands of readers will contribute their expanded thoughts and our reporters and editors can sort the information into something illustrative.

We’ve got four sons, kindergarten through high school sophomore. The trusted medical reporting doesn’t indicate we belong to any elevated risk groups. But we’re still operating with caution — if not for the six in our house, then for all those we know who could be endangered by a local outbreak.

Restaurant food and haircuts aren’t essential (or inexpensive) for our brood, so we’ll likely spend risk capital on things like taking the kids to the dentist. Reconnecting with family would be a high priority, but we’re already 60 percent to any group pf 10, so we have to be selective and respectful of others trying to keep circles small.

If some of the kids’ activities can come back safely, like outdoor baseball practice or our teenager’s summer job, they’re going to do more for our overall well-being than my wife and I grabbing a few drinks downtown. But your mileage may vary, which is why we’re conducting the survey.

Perhaps you need a haircut to go back to the office. Maybe that monthly date night is the key to keeping your relationship in balance. Chances are you don’t have four young kids and so getting together with a few other families around the fire pit isn’t complicated.

The survey is about consumer behavior, a logical limit if simplicity is the goal. But I’m infinitely more interested in what employees have to say. Are you being asked to go back to work at a restaurant or salon? Do you have the child care to meet those obligations? Has your employer fully explained their safety procedures?

We’ll tell those stories in days to come as well. We don’t live in an economy, we live in a society, and the former won’t flourish without commitment to the latter.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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