How Covid-19 is impacting the lifestyle of Australians

30 March 2020 4 min. read

Short of 50% of Australians are worried about Covid-19’s disruption to their daily life, as social distancing measures reach full flow in the country, according to new research by data & insights consultancy Kantar.

The firm surveyed 1,000 Australians in two waves, one between the 6th and 9th of March and the other between March 20th and 23rd. The idea is to keep pace with the impact of Covid-19, not only on the lives of Australians but also on overall morale and sentiment as they adapt to changes.

In the space of just two weeks, Kantar found this impact to progress dramatically. Regarding Covid-19’s overall economic impact, just under 19% of Australians expected a full fledged recession to result from the current state of disruption in the first survey round. By the second round, this number had jumped to 64%.

Impact on daily life

The shift in outlook build on the dire economic forecasts currently being debated, with some estimating economic damage in tens of billions to the GDP by the end of this year alone. Australians have gone into a flurry of financial planning to contend with the changes, although this is just one of the several changes with which they are faced.

45% of Australians have now expressed concern that Covid-19 is significantly disrupting their daily lives, be it travel plans or simple outings for a meal or a drink. Social distancing measures have only recently reached an enforceable stage, which has likely produced a spike in the concerns about disruption to daily life.

“As a nation, Australians are finally beginning to get the message around the critical importance of social distancing measures and other protocols designed to reduce their exposure risk. From working at home to avoiding social activities, there have been major changes in the lives of Australians in the last fortnight,” writes Kantar in its report.

The firm details some of these tangible changes that have come about. “For example, 6 in 10 cancelled domestic travel plans, while in a massive swing from 15% in early March, three-quarters reduced time in public places – before the government shutdowns were enacted,” said Kantar.

Australians appear to have already been conscientious prior to enforced lockdown, given that 60% had stopped eating out before all restaurants and cafes were closed down. This is a massive jump from just 9% in the first survey wave conducted by Kantar in early March. More than 60% also socialised less, a jump from 7% in early March, while the 3% that had stopped having social gatherings at home in early March is now up to 40%.

Other disruptions to daily life include sport and fitness activities, with a third of Australians reporting a reduction in sports over the last fortnight, compared with just 5% in early March. Cinemagoers have also hunkered down, with a drop in footfall of more than 55%, and online streaming sites have emerged as clear winners in the new world.

Online shopping is thriving

Online platforms in general have been positioned well in lockdown conditions. Australia’s already thriving online commerce landscape has remained unhindered by the crisis, with nearly 75% reporting no change in their online shopping activity. 10% has even reported an increase in online purchases, while the remainder has reduced ecommerce engagement.

Within the retail sector, health, sanitation and hygiene brands have most certainly increased in prominence, as well as bathroom products that have also soared in sales. Beauty and luxury products, meanwhile, have lost their appeal temporarily, with 15% reporting decreased consumption. Beyond the circumstantial boost to sales, Kantar Australia’s Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Sinton suggests that brand response to the crisis will also affect business in the long run.

“The way brands deal with the crisis now may also influence consumers in the future. People expect brands to deliver real value, act responsibly and do right by the community, including their employees. While these findings show the extent to which coronavirus is affecting people’s daily lives, we recognise that it’s a rapidly changing event. As the crisis intensifies and continues to spread, people’s attitudes and concerns will change just as quickly,” said Sinton.

“Brands must consider current consumer concerns, how coronavirus will impact longer-term economic health and that the choices people make may continue to change well after the epidemic comes to an end. People will likewise look for trust in brands and their supply chains as they make choices as to what they may or may not buy. The upsurge in consumer behaviour change is forcing a rethink of resilient business strategies for short-term survival and on long-term strategy to ensure recovery and sustainable growth.”