One of the many great presentations given at this week’s 20th Annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conference which concludes today in Las Vegas, was effectively a status report on the state of the franchising industry. Overall, the report by FranData CEO Darrell Johnson pointed to calm seas on the surface with much tumult churning below. As to COVID, he speculated that it will likely continue to be with us through the next year – with different spikes throughout that time frame. Consequently, he also sees supply chain challenges continuing probably through 2023, especially in light of the global vaccination rate. Although many people have already been fully vaccinated in total numbers to date, vaccinations actually account for less than half the global population with very low rates still very much prevalent in Asia, a reality which by itself would indicate problems continuing with global supply channels. In the same vein, with baby boomers retiring and others leaving the workforce for new career endeavors, the domestic labor shortage is expected to continue as well as is the push for unionization and higher wages for blue collar jobs. And finally, the reality of the now 19-month (and counting) pandemic has accelerated the dedication to capital for technological advances over labor costs. We’re now far advanced in the development of kiosks, mobile applications, robotics and the like at the expense of dedicating that same capital to labor. In the aggregate, these realities will most likely impact consumer sentiments and accelerate the evolution of consumer behavior going forward.