Thirteen days ago when I wrote the Initial Analysis from Premise Data of the economic impacts of COVID-19, China had 17 times the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases as the United States. Today the United States has surpassed China with over 150,000 confirmed cases, exponentially growing daily. The ‘Stay at Home’ orders—in some places like South Africa, the lockdown orders are so restrictive that residents can’t leave the house to walk their dogs will continue for at least three weeks, no dog walks!—disrupting the daily lives of hundreds of millions around the globe with untold secondary impacts reverberating through the greater economy. Beyond the headlines of the day’s Dow Jones Industrial Average volatile up or down-swing, the effects of COVID-19 are spiraling as the pandemic spreads causing 3.3 million Americans to seek unemployment coverage while leaving their healthcare subject to affording COBRA, qualifying for Medicaid or purchasing a private plan through the Affordable Care Act exchange in each state.
The media in the United States has a focus on the impacts happening in some countries—headlines from China on factory closures, normally-bustling European capital cities void of tourists, daily updates from authorities in the United States, the confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis of the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson—all places important for travel and business.
Africa, home to over 1.2 billion people, is likely to bear a great burden of the world’s infections and deaths from COVID-19 due to a multitude of reasons, including the observations of Premise contributors in Burkina Faso showing dismissal of World Health Organization (WHO) social distancing guidelines. Most African nations lack unemployment coverage for their citizens, but even those fewer-than-10 countries which do provide support, the unemployment numbers won’t reflect the full extent of those financially impacted because of COVID-19. Beyond understanding the economic impacts of Coronavirus, Premise has been able to build an understanding of the day-to-day lives of many across the African continent and are keenly situated to see early changes in patterns of behaviors that have been indicative of those with increasing infection rates.
Global Impact Trends
Making purchases in preparation for COVID-19 has been steadily increasing week-by-week. Not a surprising discovery as the total number of cases globally also continues to increase. Today, 73% of Premise’s global network—also the survey’s peak—are themselves, or aware of others, making Coronavirus-related buys. In just 23 days those making preparations has increased by 37% from the low-point on March 4, when only 36% of our respondents were in preparation-mode.
Awareness from the Premise contributor network remains relatively unchanged, with just under 15% of respondents who are ‘not at all aware’ of COVID-19, but economic outlook is clearly trending downward: those who agree with the statement their economy ‘will get worse before it gets better’ has seen a 12-point increase globally.
The concern about the spread within one’s community has continued to climb—in three weeks there was a 21-point increase in those who are ‘very concerned’ about Coronavirus spreading—and with each passing day, fewer respondents are ‘unconcerned’ about the pandemic in their community. Data from future weeks will show if these trends continue as global infection rates increase daily.
Trends in the United States
What a difference ten days and 90,000 additional cases of COVID-19 have on shopping habits of Americans. Ten days ago, 61% of Americans reported no impact on their shopping habits; now 31% are reporting no impact on shopping.
The interesting difference in ten days isn’t the numbers reporting shopping online more or claiming the Coronavirus has had ‘no impact’ on how they spend, but the amount of respondents who are shopping less at local stores and online.
Before March 17, under 20% of Premise contributors in the U.S. were shopping less overall.
Today that figure has jumped to 35%—a difference of 15 points of Americans reporting they’re shopping less online and in-store. Just turn on the news and you’ll see the impact that 15% is having on American businesses in such a short period of time.
A Look to Africa
The same day COVID-19 was elevated to a global health threat level of ‘very high’ by the WHO (February 28), Nigeria recorded its first infection marking the initial diagnoses of this novel Coronavirus in Sub-Saharan Africa. With collaboration from partners in the International Development sector, Premise has cultivated a unique understanding of healthcare systems in developing nations, including many countries throughout Africa. As the pandemic spreads across the African continent, in addition to the economic impacts of COVID-19, Premise is going to continue monitoring healthcare systems for related and secondary impacts.
In Nigeria, like other nations where Coronavirus has experienced economic impacts, economic impacts are moving in familiar directions. As each week progresses, Premise contributors are experiencing more effects of price gouging, and a clear shift toward increasing shortages of products. In less than a month, those experiencing product and supply shortages saw a 20-point increase, additionally now impacting over half of Nigerian respondents.
Other impacts of COVID-19 on Nigerian daily life have been even more drastic. Those staying home from work or school saw a dramatic increase from a low of 19% on March 6 to 90% today—a shift of nearly 70% whose daily lives have been dramatically upended in a short amount of time. Not too surprisingly, the percentage of Nigerians altering travel plans as a result of the pandemic has made a near reversal in a few short weeks. Today, over three-quarters (76%) have altered travel plans, up from just more than one-third (38%) on March 4.
Today, South Africa has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa and to understand impacts, Premise formally launched survey projects in the country to coincide with the start of the formal lockdown on March 27. As the confirmed case numbers increase and the lockdown effects are felt, Premise will continue surveying South Africans to identify changes in spending habits and other aspects of daily life throughout the pandemic and recovery.
The Landscape Ahead
In some places around the globe, case numbers are climbing exponentially daily and in others, the number of new cases has flattened or even started to decline. How will Premise contributors change their lives as COVID-19 infection rates increase in nations with challenged healthcare systems across Africa and the Middle East?
When this pandemic slows down and social distancing (hopefully!) becomes a thing of the past, Premise is going to continue to ask our network these same questions to provide a near real-time understanding of economic impacts and consumer behavior changes throughout the pandemic. Our goal as a company is to help people make better decisions through a greater understanding of the world. Check out www.premise.com/COVID-19 to learn more about the data we’re collecting, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.