An analytical report by Technical Studies that correlates the executive orders on the pandemic and the mobility index concluded that the consumer has already relaxed in their behavior when traveling to buy, to their work and recreation spaces beyond the government guidelines.
“The challenge for both the government, private companies and citizens is to control the pandemic and thus provide a safe environment so that ‘normality’ can be returned. Otherwise, we must expect an increase in infections, and with it the possible return to stricter orders and consumers who will reduce their mobility ‘of their own accord’. This would manifest itself in a contraction in consumer spending in stores and high-risk spaces. Likewise, the opening of massive activities such as attendance at educational centers, recreational and entertainment events would be delayed ”, expressed the president of Technical Studies, Graham Castillo.
The analysis took into account the Report on the mobility of communities in the face of Covid-19, carried out by Google, which registers cell phone connections and visits to places such as supermarkets, restaurants, workplaces and parks, among others.
Technical Studies correlated the occupancy parameters with the executive orders on Covid-19 that the government issued as of March 15, 2020.
The data show that the initial lockdown order severely limited mobility, but, with the liberalization of executive orders, in the following months consumers increased their mobility to relatively high levels.
Castillo explained that “mobility trends suggest that, once the restrictions of executive orders are relaxed, over time consumer behavior is determining mobility trends towards the businesses or activities evaluated. Thus, executive orders and mobility have been dissociated. Given this level of mobility, it is foreseeable to expect an increase in infections if citizens do not take the necessary security measures recommended by health authorities ”.
He added that “our concern is that if infections increase, we should not expect an increase in mobility and in the recovery of certain consumer activities. This underscores the need to intensify the comprehensive approach to the pandemic while achieving herd immunity through vaccination, if the economic consequences of the pandemic are to be minimized. On the other hand, all sectors must comply with the health recommendations. In our opinion, the emphasis that is being given to executive orders, once they have been relaxed, obscures this need. Controlling the pandemic is a priority for economic recovery and other social activities such as going back to school ”.
The report is a mobility indicator that, although it does not reflect sales, it is an approximation that shows how people have or have not changed their behavior since March.
For example, the indicator does not allow differentiating between types of transactions or changes in their nature, such as looking for food at a restaurant vs. consume on the spot.
“However, it is useful to have a mobility indicator to understand the changes that the pandemic has had on the movement of people since March 2020, since it is reasonable to expect that mobility is related to economic activity,” said Castillo .
The president of Technical Studies commented that “measuring the effectiveness of the executive order is a very difficult exercise just with this mobility indicator. For this, there are other metrics that are used in the field of epidemiology, such as the positivity rate, hospitalizations, among others. The purpose of the analysis is to identify how mobility has behaved in certain spaces in the face of capacity restrictions. We see that mobility is not only influenced by executive orders, but also by individuals and companies for their determination to assume the risk associated with a behavior that results in greater mobility and social interaction ”.
The first executive orders, especially Executive Order OE-2020-029, produced a drastic reduction in mobility.
In that order period of March 15, pharmacies and grocery stores reported an average mobility of just over half their allowable capacity and 54% of their pre-Covid-19 level.
Restaurants and retail stores were down to about a quarter of their pre-Covid-19 mobility, even as the executive order allowed for more than a third of capacity. Workplaces were significantly reduced, but still above the average capacity allowed.
In contrast, since the order of June 13, 2020, no significant changes were observed in mobility between categories.
Apart from the mobility reduction peaks of July 19 and August 20, the multiple changes in executive orders have not altered the new mobility trend.
Almost all the categories approached and remained at 80-90% mobility during these periods, including the activity of restaurants that, even without further flexibility, there has been a considerable increase in mobility in these spaces
Castillo indicated that apart from the executive orders, it is reasonable to argue that many citizens determined to lock themselves up when they perceived the danger of Covid-19.
“The risk for commerce is that they would do it again if the risk of contagion grows, whether or not there are executive orders,” he said.
He stated that any increase in consumer risk perception would seriously affect the economy and reaching that point should be avoided due to the sustainability of thousands of businesses that could be classified by health authorities as high-risk spaces, as happened when the operating capacity of shopping centers, restaurants, certain employment centers and others was limited. “This is particularly relevant given the emergence of more contagious and dangerous variants of the virus,” he warned.