Consumers will "both crave and will return to 'real' activities and experiences" as soon as it is safe to do so, according to Lindsell Train's Nick Train as the performance of retail stocks in his portfolio offering 'virtual' experiences surges ahead of those offering 'real' activities.
With restaurants and pubs tentatively opening across the world and sporting events having restarted behind closed doors as lockdown restrictions have eased, investors holding related stocks have hoped that struggling share prices would see an imminent bounce.
However, volatility has remained. Shares in Italian football team Juventus, which is held in the Lindsell Train Global Equity fund, slumped 12% after the club was eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by French rivals Lyon last week.
That followed a 3% drop from the stock through the course of July despite the team winning its ninth successive Serie A league title, reflecting, Train said, investor concerns that virtual experiences could surpass physical ones in the post-Covid world.
Train compared the share price decline of Juventus with the 32% year-to-date gain by US video game maker Electronic Arts, "in part because sales of its sports games and associated virtual tournaments have boomed during lockdown".
This differential between 'virtual' and 'real' has, of course, been reflected in other parts of the market, too. Markets remain concerned over the exhibitions part of Relx's business, while the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown continue to perform well as lockdowns affect them less.
Train posed a duo of questions in his latest factsheet: "Will fans permanently transfer their allegiance and their dollars to the virtual teams? Or is it necessary for Juventus and, say, WWE, to continue to deliver well-attended, real-world sporting spectacles to keep up the interest in the digital products?
"The answers to those two questions are: no and yes respectively - we are sure."
Further, Train said, his team continues to be positive on consumer goods providers, particularly those selling alcoholic beverages, which have been impacted by the mandatory closure of pubs and restaurants.
However, he countered, many of these have been more resilient of late with Guinness brewer Diageo and Jack Daniel's maker Brown-Forman up 4% and 10% respectively in July.
"I have been in north Cornwall for a week in mid-July watching the beaches fill to capacity and the time-honoured rituals of teenagers congregating around trays of Heineken beer and bags of Pepsico's Doritos," Train said.
"Nothing has changed. And I have no doubt that human beings both crave and will return to 'real' activities and experiences.
"Clubbing, Disney theme parks, business deals signed at exhibitions, luxury shopping and, yes, attending live football matches will all come again. Because it is human nature."