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The Near Team

5 mins read

Baby Boomers and Gen X Hit the Road- The California Reopening Story.

The home of stars and startups, California resumed operations after rounds of relaxation in the stay-at-home order during April and May. Most of the essential, non-essential, and recreational services resumed their operations. In certain counties, even film production and sports tournaments(without live audiences) were allowed to resume operations. 

Even though these relaxations have come as a wave of relief for various sectors, the real road to recovery depends on the resident’s preferences. Are they the same or there has been a shift in their behavior while attempting to adapt to ‘The New Normal’?

To examine whether California residents have changed their ways or not, we considered the visitation pattern of diverse demographics across 3 different counties – Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego – in between June 1st and June 30th 2020. Then contrasted it with their pre-lockdown behavior between March 1st and March 15th 2020.

To better the analysis, we also evaluated the footfall pattern and density index across various categories in the observed counties.

Let’s see what the data has to say.

Work, supermarkets and home – Mobility trinity of California residents

%age Change in Average Density by Category

The graph shows the change in average density across various categories on an aggregate level during the pre and post-lockdown phase.

After reopening, the average density across all the categories witnessed a sharp negative dip with the highest drop of 59% at public transportation hubs and the least drop of 39% at grocery stores.

  • Restaurants saw almost a 50% dip in their average density. This percentage decline can be contributed to the fact that only outdoor dining was allowed.
  • Grocery stores and supermarkets saw the least dip in average density, as the residents are still prioritizing prioritizing in person essential pick-up .
  • Gyms and public transportation hubs saw more than 50% decline in average density, as residents chose to avoid eminent public places. 

In order to understand residents behavior in detail, we studied the county-wise distribution across these categories. 

Density Index – pre-lockdown

Density Index – Post-Reopening

The graph shows the county-wise change in average density across various categories during the pre and post-lockdown phase.

There has been a sharp decline in density index across the observed categories in all the counties as residents are strictly maintaining social distance.

  • In comparison Los Angeles witnessed the highest average density for restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and hair salons.
  • Although the density for corporate offices dropped in the counties yet in absolute sense it remained pretty high for Riverside (4.6). A status this category upheld, even when compared across other categories in the observed counties.  
  • Even though public transport experienced a 59% drop in average density in between the pre and post-lockdown period, in absolute sense it still remains one of the most crowded areas among the observed categories.

To further our analysis, we again looked at the county-wise change in average density on an aggregate level.

%age Change in Average Density by County

The graph depicts countwise %change in average density.

Interestingly on an aggregate level, all the observed counties saw a similar dip of 50% in their average density.  

Millennials take a backseat

Breakup by Age Group Pre Lockdown

Breakup by Age Group after Reopening

The graph shows the age-wise change in average density across various categories during the pre and post-lockdown phase.

While attributing the density to specific age groups, a stark contrast in pre and post-lockdown behavior was observed. 

  • Millennials were more likely to visit restaurants, gyms, offices, supermarkets, corporate offices, grocery stores, and hair salons during the pre-lockdown period. In the post reopening, Millennials footfalls have decreased by more than 50% across all the categories.
  • In the post-lockdown period, the majority of foot traffic across all the categories were dominated by 45+ year olds. 
  • Most striking different behavior was observed for the age group 35-44, who were least likely to visit most categories during the pre-lockdown period. However, post-lockdown, their foot traffic increased substantially for almost all the categories. 

Old patterns manifest themselves when it comes to distance travelled

Break Up by Distance Travelled Before Lockdown

Break Up by Distance Travelled Post Reopening

The graph shows the break up based on distance travelled for various categories during the pre and post-lockdown phase.

  • Most striking finding of this analysis remains the fact that distance travelled for various categories during the pre and post-lockdown phase mirrored an exactly similar pattern. So far, this level of parallel behavior wasn’t observed in any state.
  • Aside from public transport hubs,  during both the periods California residents preferred to travel within a 3 mile radius for availing the observed categories.

Understanding whether this behavior is an immediate effect of the stay-at-home order or a long-term one is yet to be determined. Studying these visitation trends over longer periods of time can help brands stay relevant and plan for the future.

In case you missed our global analyses on the changing behavior of people in the real-world amid COVID-19, please download it here.

Disclaimer: The data is used to measure the impact on businesses and consumer behavior and is not an explanation for the infection rates. If you choose to reuse our analysis, please contextualize it and attribute the content to Near. Near’s data platform is privacy-by-design and the data is gathered from real-world signals in an anonymized and aggregated form.

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