Focus: How is the pandemic changing our daily habits?

As most European countries start to re-emerge from lockdown, it’s becoming clear that we aren’t getting “back to normal” anytime soon. So, how is COVID-19 changing our lives? How did our daily routine and consumption change during the lockdown, and what changes may stay with us for a long time?

Baking, video-calling, and trying to cope with longer hair: three of the most common daily experiences during lockdown

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What stuff do we use?

According to a GfK survey , in the Netherlands ice-cream and wine were among the goods that people started to stockpile the most, while in Germany soft drinks underwent the largest increase. In Italy, shops quickly run out  of flour and yeast. Consumption of beauty products and clothing went down in most countries, as did electricity use: at the height of lockdown, the latter dropped by about 20-30%  in countries like Spain, Italy and France. 

Patterns of electricity consumption have changed  during the day: demand tends to pick up later in the morning, dip in the afternoon and drop off later than usual at night. To the contrary, internet traffic has boomed – just imagine how this whole experience would have been different if the internet weren’t there (or if it couldn’t sustain this spike  in demand).

How much do we move?

By definition, the lockdown heavily affected citizens’ mobility, reducing traffic by any means of transport. Civio has developed an application for EDJNet, tracking precisely the daily trends in traffic in all of the EU’s capital cities. 

As long as the coronavirus stays around, the ways of moving within cities and between them will change, with many local authorities in Europe now announcing restrictions on public transports and massive investments in cycle lanes . Data analysis can help in highlighting newly pressing mobility issues: for instance, in some cities  almost all the sidewalks are too narrow to grant proper physical distancing.

How do we work?

Teleworking isn’t anything new for EDJNet: as a network of newsrooms across Europe, we’re used to working from distance and to meeting in person on only a handful of occasions per year. But we weren’t that used to working from home – and this is possibly one of the main novelties that the pandemic has brought to a large share of European citizens. 

Six months ago, we were reporting that “teleworking struggles to take hold in Spain:” things are probably very different now. Yet the availability of digital infrastructure for learning and working from home differs greatly from one country to another. And smart working is an option only for those who can afford it: many weekend workers still have to turn up in person .

How do we keep in touch?

Videocalls have become so popular that the capitalisation of the market leader, Zoom, has now surpassed  the value of the four largest US airlines combined. More in general, people have been using more all sorts of apps and tools to cultivate relations with family and friends, including social networks of course. And while “it is a frustrating time to be single ,” it’s not necessarily a frustrating time for dating apps, since the number of sent messages and the length of conversation is also increasing. 

What do members of the European Parliament think of when they talk about home? Our Quote Finder has the answer.

What do members of the European Parliament think of when they talk about home? Our Quote Finder has the answer.

How do we spend our free time? 

Of course we stay at home, or close to it – as weekends away and leisure travels aren’t an option  for now. Perhaps counterintuitively, data from Spotify shows  that in some countries people are listening less to music than beforehand: there's no parties, no gym, less commuting after all. Some genres have become more popular however – this is the case for classical and ambient  music. 

Cinemas and the press risk exiting the coronavirus pandemic in a critical state, as consumption patterns have shifted dramatically to digital providers of films and news, possibly for good. While box office revenues are vanishing , Netflix reported  a record-high 16 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2020. 

As a network of media outlets, we’re very interested in observing the impact of the pandemic on the media sector . Most of our members are digital-only, but everyone expects challenging times ahead – with revenues falling but readership increasing, the time has probably come for bolder business models. 

Monday 25 May 2020

Author/s:

Lorenzo Ferrari

Source/s:

OBC Transeuropa
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