London based online market research agency FlyResearch has been issuing weekly polls to its research panel of over 3000 people throughout the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, in order to project how the outbreak and the implementing of social distancing has been impacting the daily life of UK citizens.
This week, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the findings from wave 32 of the Covid-19 tracker survey with the Leaders Council, published on November 6 and sourced from data collected on October 30, and the noticeable development in this latest poll was that the mood of panellists is beginning to change more rapidly than their physical health.
In light of this change, Ward’s weekly analysis began by exploring the individual emotions that panel members were reporting themselves as having experienced, and there was an all-time high of 36 per cent of people polled who informed FlyResearch that they feel ‘angry’ about the latest developments. This had ascended from the 32 per cent mark seen in the previous survey.
Commenting on the change, Ward said: “The 36 per cent is now a historic high for the prevalence of anger among our respondents, having climbed four per cent from last week. It had been trending around the 20 per cent mark over the summer and climbed to 30 per cent around six weeks ago before leaping to this new high in week 32.”
Ward added: “We are also seeing a climb in the number of people telling us that they feel scared, which is now showing a reading of 23 per cent. Back at the very beginning of the pandemic, 30 per cent of people felt this way, before it fell away to a steady 12 per cent. It was around eight weeks ago that this figure began to climb again toward its current peak.
“Unfortunately, we have also recorded the largest proportion of panellists who have said that they are feeling ‘desperate’ amid the ongoing situation, which now stands at 11 per cent. That figure stood at around four per cent way back in week one at the end of March but is showing a sharp upward trend.”
While Ward highlighted that there was a less dramatic shift in the number of respondents directly affected by the virus [with the one per cent of people having reported severe symptoms last week subsiding to zero per cent and those experiencing mild symptoms remaining at seven per cent], some numbers do continue to trend upward with a high of 42 per cent now saying that their mental health has been affected, up from 39 per cent in the previous poll. 49 per cent, compared to 51 per cent last week, now say that they are not affected by the virus in any way, meaning that the number of those affected now exceeds that of those who are not.
Ward said: “A three per cent increase in those mentally impacted may not seem like a significant shift, but we were seeing readings of 39 per cent in this area back in week nine of the programme and this is the first real shift we’ve seen since. Consequently, this is also the first time we have seen the number of people who have been affected by the virus exceed the number of those that have not been impacted.”
The health of the panel members’ friends and family is also being affected at an increased rate according to the latest figures. Ward indicated that 68 per cent of respondents are now reporting that they know somebody who has either been tested, taken ill or passed away.
Analysing the trajectory of these numbers, Ward explained: “Over the first four weeks of this study, we saw the number of people who knew someone that had fallen into either of these categories rise from 48 per cent to 60 per cent, before it seemed to plateau over the summer. The previous four weeks have seen these figures begin to climb again. This number jumped from 65 per cent to 68 per cent across the previous two surveys, to once again reach a peak this week.”
One positive was that little movement was seen in the feedback concerning the employment status of those polled, with 44 per cent still reporting that they are employed, nine per cent continuing to be furloughed, and two per cent - down from three per cent in wave 31 - now redundant. 37 per cent continued to report themselves as simply ‘not working’.
“The lack of movement in the employment figures is encouraging, but we will keep a close eye on this in future to gauge whether the latest lockdown which entered force on November 5 happens to change that,” Ward said.
Elsewhere in the latest survey, the UK government’s strategy for handling the crisis continued to underwhelm respondents. In FlyResearch’s one to ten scoring survey [one representing a ‘disaster’ and ten signifying a ‘very positive’ response] used by panellists to express their views on the matter, a majority of 29 per cent of the panel scored the government’s handling of the crisis with a score of one, with just two per cent scoring a ten. Back in week one, these figures stood at four per cent and eight per cent, respectively.
The other most prevalent scores in this week’s survey were two [14 per cent] and five [12 per cent], with a score of three [11 per cent] following just behind.
Overall, 53 per cent of the panel in total gave the government’s response a bottom three score, with just 11 per cent returning a score in the top three range of eight to ten. 36 per cent occupied the middle ground between a score of four and seven.
Respondents also continued to believe that the government is responding to developments too slowly, although this may be subject to change once the survey considers the ongoing national lockdown. On the -100 to +100 speed survey, with the negative extreme signifying the view that the government is moving too slowly and the positive extreme the inverse, the score has once again descended from -30 in the previous poll to -41 now, suggesting that more people are beginning to hold the view that the government is not moving quickly enough to address issues as and when they arise.
Indeed, 36 per cent of the panel reported that they felt the government was moving ‘much too slowly’, while 31 per cent felt that they were moving a little too slowly for their liking. Only 19 per cent felt that the government’s timing of measures was about right, while a mere 15 per cent felt that the government was acting too quickly in one form or another.
As is customary within the weekly polls, a guest question featured in which FlyResearch asked the panel about what they planned to be doing more or less of in terms of social activities over the next six months. While the question was largely answered before the national lockdown came into effect, the figures still offered an interesting indication for when the tiered system of restrictions resumes.
Presenting the responses, Ward said: “Very few of our panel members think they’ll be doing more of any particular activity. Nobody at all said that they will be going to the hairdresser or beauty salons more frequently, and 91 per cent say that they think they will be socialising less with friends and family. The same number also said that they would eat out less frequently. Meanwhile, 92 per cent think that they will be visiting the pub on fewer occasions and a further 94 per cent indicated they would attend live music and sporting events less than they did pre-pandemic. 95 per cent said the same about the cinema and the theatre.
“Even shopping has not gone unaffected, with 85 per cent of the panel informing us that they will be spending less time on the high street, while 57 per cent even went as far to say they would go shopping for food on fewer occasions.”