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You're On Mute: The Crossover Moment That Says The Old Normal Is Not Gone Forever

London Office

Finally it happened: The crossover moment has occurred. Some signs of the old normal are back. 

One of the most conspicuous Covid winners — videoconferencing group Zoom — has now fallen to parity with one of the pandemic’s most conspicuous sufferers, hotel group Hilton.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings' share price on the New York Stock Exchange fell to $68.20 on 1 March 2020 as the scale of the pandemic became apparent. It has climbed back steadily ever since to stand at $158 today.

Nasdaq-listed Zoom Video Communications has been travelling in the other direction. On 1 March 2020 it was priced at $146, already up sharply on a pre-Christmas low of $68. The climb continued until 1 November 2020 peaking at $478, and it has since steadily declined to today’s $142.

As a result, Hilton's market capitalisation is $43.8B, compared to Zoom's $41.4B. Bloomberg was the first to spot the looming moment of truth.

Confirmation that the economy has reached the crossover point at which working from home is no longer the only game in town, and a return to pre-pandemic hospitality is undoubtedly on the rise, comes from two other just-published data sets.

Analysis of Pret a Manger sandwich bar sales by the UK Office for National Statistics showed that all major city centres are back to, or exceeding, their March 2020 levels of activity. London West End and Manchester are almost exactly spot-on, and the London suburbs about 20% above March 2020.

Only the City of London was underperforming, operating at about 78% of March 2020 capacity, the Pret figures indicated.

There is also mounting evidence of recovery in the hotel sector, particularly in international travel.

The UK travel and tourism sector is predicted to turnover £192B this year, with the global travel and tourism sector recording £6.3T turnover. This is just 6.4% behind pre-pandemic figures, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Investors have reacted accordingly. Figures from Knight Frank show that £4B was invested in UK hotels in 2021. Of this, a mighty 52% was in the final quarter, and 51% was from overseas.