We are all struggling to understand what a post COVID19 world will look like. Although, we are still very much in the here and now with COVID19, we can already begin to see, with the ease of the lockdown, how and what impact it will have on our lives. In this paper, we look at France, which since 11th of May, has eased the lockdown restrictions. We aim to deliver the first observations on the changes (or not) in online behaviour.
On observing web navigation data1, we can start to draw a comparison between the online behaviour during and after lockdown. We observed 4 different situations:
1. Negative Impact
Here, we have websites whose number of visits decreased during lockdown and saw a further drop in visits once the lockdown was eased in France. Surprisingly, we found two unexpected categories of websites which fall into this category: health related websites, and news and media! Unexpected at such a time!
To doublecheck, we analysed the reach of three main French news websites (Lemonde.fr; lefigaro.fr, and of doctissimo.fr – the most important health related forum). For all them, we found the same pattern which explains pretty well the results on a category level: people have been bombarded with information about coronavirus. At the beginning, they were really eager to search as much information as possible. However, after a while (at the end of March), they had all the information needed about the crisis, and as the news was still mainly focused on the situation, they got bored. The same has happened for doctissimo.fr: strong interest in March, and then it decreased.
2. Back to (new?) normal
Some websites were intensely visited during lockdown, as the range of possible leisure distractions was pretty limited; an easy and convenient way of being entertained was to watch TV shows or movies. As of now, either we have more entertainment options (typically we can meet friends), or we have to go back to work; and as a result there are less visits on entertainment websites than there were during lockdown.
The same dynamic can be observed for food and recipes websites. We talked a lot about the increased usage of food related websites during lockdown. Currently, either because we are less at home, or because we have less time for cooking, the number of visits on food and recipe websites has decreased.
However, the situation is not exactly the same for these two categories of websites. Despite the peak during lockdown, the number of visits on entertainment websites is currently lower than before lockdown (people might be attracted to outdoor activities): check below figures for YouTube and Netflix. On the other hand, if the number of visits to food and recipe websites has gone down since the lockdown was eased, it is still higher than what it was before the crisis. Check below figures about 750g.com and cuisineactuelle.fr.
Do these results tell us something about what the world will look like in the next few months? Will there be an increased digitalization of our leisure activities?
Some industries have been stopped by lockdown, most notably the travel and tourism industry. With the ease of the lockdown, and the announcements of the prime minister (“allowing” French people to organize their summer holidays), activity in this industry is now slowly restarting. The same applies to shopping websites; people made savings during lockdown and they are now taking advantage of it. But the activity on travel and shopping websites is still lower than before lockdown.
In the field of job searches, we can see the same pattern. Stopped during lockdown by necessity, the searches have now recommenced. As for real estate: Did the lockdown trigger the will to move to another place, or is it just a temporary phenomenon? Activity on real estate websites is higher these days than it was before lockdown.
Below some examples for famous websites (to be noted amazon does not appear, as the number of visits still dropped after lockdown; it is still suffering from the legal decisions that limit its activity in France).
4. Positive impact
Last but not least, there are those who took advantage of the crisis and continue to profit from the situation. Here, we found websites whose field of activities is still strongly related to what we observed during lockdown.
First, we found courier services, which are still being used more than they were before, because shops are still reopening or because people still hesitate to visit offline shops. Then DIY retailers: DIY has been one of the major activities during lockdown, people might lack some supplies, or they still have some jobs to finish.
And interestingly self- training services continue to be very popular; typically, some of us used the lockdown period to learn a foreign language and they haven’t given up despite an ease in restrictions.
After these first observations about the digital activity since lockdown was eased, we can already state that some trends revealed by the lockdown are still very much valid: DIY, cooking, self-training are still trending activities. Will they be part of the “new normal”?
1 Since 2016, a percentage of our French panel has accepted to share their navigation/app usage data with us. They all have installed a software/an app which monitors their online activities. Here we compared the measures obtained since the 1st of March 2020, national representative sample (gender, age) n=1983, data from desktop and mobile (besides apps).