Covid-19: What Shape Could Recovery Take?

The question on everybody’s minds right now is what shape could recovery take once the lockdown restrictions associated with Covid-19 are eventually lifted.

Will consumers burst out of their homes en-masse and flood into the shops, stores, bars and other premises that they’ve been barred from for potentially months? Or will the closing side of the ‘V’ exhibit a more subdued plane as we emerge tentatively from isolation and embrace our re-found freedoms with caution. The speed with which consumers re-engage with the commercial and natural world around them will inform how large swathes of the economy can rebound, and the extent to which any more casualties can be mitigated.

What’s happening in China?

At this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, we really only have one reference-point for how how consumer behaviour could rebound after the restrictions on businesses and our movements are finally lessened – and that is China. The chart below is a snapshot of the daily consumer sectors footfall indicator that we have produced to help measure consumer engagement with the retail environment in China from Jan 1st 2020.

Source: Huq Indicator for Daily Consumer Footfall in China

The chart series is a count of unique daily visitors to consumer businesses in China as measured by our Geo-data panel. We represent this as an index by comparing the present date’s value to the starting date, and basing that outcome at 100. The coloured annotations on the chart series represent the dates at which lockdown restrictions were implemented – and those at which they have been lifted.

What can we learn from this?

Initial measures lead to 33-point fall in Chinese retail activity (Jan-23 to Jan-30); latter measures mark the series low-point, with an index value of 32. The relaxation and eventual lifting of restrictive measures then results in a 10-point recovery in retail activity (Mar-13 to Mar-25th). It’s early days, but from what we are able to observe so far the return to ‘normal’ may indeed be gradual.

There will of course be nuanced differences across the underlying consumer sub-sectors and industries, and even across the different brands and businesses themselves – all of which is available to users of our Huq Events geo-data products. If Huq’s global POI-enriched mobile geo-dataset can help your business to find answers to these important questions, reach out to us today to discuss your requirements.