March 2020 saw unprecedented restrictions placed on the majority of the world’s population in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19. This means school closures, working from home, panic buying, and spending most of the time indoors are the new reality for billions of people. With these restrictions come inevitable increases in Google searches for things like entertainment apps, food deliveries and home exercising, but what about the things people are now searching for less frequently than before?
For many, lockdown is an inconvenience and a source of anxiety. But data from Google Trends suggests that many of our everyday woes have become less of a problem as a result of not commuting or socialising, in the UK and the wider English speaking world.
Travel & Commuting
The graphs below show how many of the stresses of daily travel for work or other reasons have been relieved by lockdown, such as damage to vehicles and public transport delays.
Another positive side of the drop in travel is the impact it’s had on the UK’s emissions, with air pollution in some cities falling by up to 60%.
Could commuting and being in an office be a factor in people’s job satisfaction? Worldwide there has been a marked reduction in people telling Google they hate their job….
While having an empty social calendar may be a depressing prospect for many, there has been a reduction in people searching for help with social anxiety.
Another upside of the ban on in-person social gatherings is that hangovers are somewhat less of a problem than they used to be….
Food & Drink
Fewer people in the UK are complaining of being hungry, perhaps because being at home means eating times are not restricted by work commitments.
After an initial sharp drop in interest in the calorie content of beer, only half of Brits are concerned with this now compared to the same time in 2019.
Wine drinkers however are being more cautious…
Losing Personal Belongings
And finally, it would seem that not leaving the house is conducive to solving one of life’s greatest annoyances – losing your phone or wallet.
While these declining search trends will have ramifications for many businesses (such as recruitment, certain retail sectors, hospitality and automotive), there are others that are seeing an increase in demand for their services as a result of the lockdown. According to Kantar, UK grocery sales grew 20% in March amounting to £10.8 billion spent – more than over the festive period. This was driven not only by stocking up on store cupboard essentials, but by increased spending on alcohol as consumers are recreating trips to the pub over apps like Houseparty and Zoom. Other sectors that are benefiting from the lockdown restrictions are retailers of tech & electronics, DIY products and home fitness equipment.
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