We are all struggling to understand what a post COVID-19 world will look like. Of course, it’s still far too early to understand what this post-pandemic life might be, but we can begin to understand what has been impacted and how, with the ease of the lockdown. In this issue of our lockdown diary, we aim to deliver the first observations we see of the changes (or not) in online behaviour. The data collection ran in the UK, when the government eased the lockdown guidelines on the 15th of June 2020.
On observing this web navigation data1, we can start to draw comparisons between the online behaviour during and after lockdown. We observed 4 different situations:
1. Negative impact
Here we have websites whose number of visits went down during lockdown and which kept on decreasing once the lockdown eased in the UK.
We found three categories. First vehicles, which is not a surprise! Cars and lockdown aren’t the perfect match. And even throughout this time, for various reasons, from money to the environment – buying a new car is not a top priority.
But more surprisingly, we found also two unexpected categories of websites which correspond to this definition: health related websites, and news and media! During these times…?!
To ensure our hypothesis was correct, we analysed the reach of three main news websites in the UK (the Sun, The Telegraph, and BBC). For all of them, we found the same pattern which explains the results on a category level: people have been overloaded by information about COVID-19. To begin with, we see an eager attitude to inform oneself. But, after a while (at the end of March), they appeared to have updated themselves on information needed about the crisis, and as news items still seemed to mainly focus on the pandemic – boredom struck and people didn’t have the thirst for news on it anymore.
2. Back to (new) normal?
Some websites have seen huge visitation levels during lockdown; as the range of possible socialising was limited, quick and easy ways are to watch TV shows or movies. As of now, either we have more options to be entertained (usually we might meet family & friends), or we have to get back to work. There are less visits now on entertainment websites than there were during lockdown.
The same dynamic can be observed for food and recipe websites. We reported a lot about the increased visits to food related websites during lockdown. Currently, either because we are out of home more than we were before, or because we have less time for cooking, the number of visits on food and recipes decreased.
However, the situation is not exactly the same for these two categories of websites.
For entertainment websites, the “new normal” looks almost the same as before. As presented below, for some of the main websites, the number of visits after lockdown is overall the same as it was before (except for Disney+ which was launched right after the lockdown was enforced).
For food related websites, the situation is rather different. It looks like British suffered an element of boredom, cooking during lockdown, as after having used a lot food related websites during this time, they currently visit them significantly less (NB: at this stage of the lockdown being eased – restaurants are still closed in the UK). Does it say something about the new normal, or is it just a momentary period?
Some activities stopped entirely during lockdown. As you can expect, no football games took place (so less sports related news, less betting opportunities), since then the Premier League started back up, and Liverpool won the championship for the first time in 30 years. In less entertaining areas, it was meaningless looking for a new job or a flat during lockdown. Since the easing of regulations, searches (for a job or a flat) appear to have picked up again.
These changes are visually represented in the graph below: the activities on job searches, real estate, sports and gambling websites dropped down during lockdown, and increased since it was eased.
One other type of website category (overall far less visited of course) followed the same dynamic, which we didn’t expect to find at all: information regarding abortion. Such a sensitive subject but a visible increase in search during lockdown.
Some concrete examples:
4. Positive impact
Last but not least: those who took advantage of the crisis and which are benefiting from the situation. Here we found websites whose field of activities are still strongly related to what we observed during lockdown.
We found 4 examples of websites which might be insightful.
- Greenpeace.org is interesting in this case: does it reveal the increasing importance of ecology in the UK?
- Decathlon, which has got media attention during lockdown for having tweaked its diving mask for medical purposes…. Could now see the benefit for more commercial purposes.
- DHL, as courier services, reveals the increasing usage of eCommerce.
- And masterofmalt (which is obviously a whisky/alcohol related website): we know that some of us drunk more during lockdown and maybe haven’t reduced their consumption just yet…
1 Since 2016, a part of our UK panel has accepted to share their navigation/app usage data with us. They have installed a software/app which monitors their online activities. During this timeframe, we used a n=1798 nat rep sample (age, gender).