What we have learnt during the lockdown

KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE: An elderly woman covers her face with a makeshift mask as people queue to collect social grants and shop during the nationwide lockdown Picture: Mike Hutchings

Social Distancing must be the new normal. So says South Africans in a snap survey that sheds light on nation’s state of being during lockdown

In a snap survey conducted by the Mozambik Restaurant Group to better understand the South African state of being during lockdown, it was revealed that most of those questioned feel that social distancing should become the new normal in a post-Covid world.

A total of 22% of respondents voted against the notion while 23% remain undecided, indications are that at 54% a majority sentiment is clear. The snap survey was done by Mozambik between April 9 and 10 and responses collected via wide targeting, digitally, with just under 600 responses received in a 36-hour period.

“Digital and social media allowed us to interrogate various strata in the population,” said Mozambik CEO Manny Nichas. “We wanted to get a feeling of sentiment out there after two-weeks of lockdown and the announcement of a further period until end-April.” Nichas added that nobody really knows what “next” is, and the snap survey forms part of the group’s larger interrogation of facts, figures and forecasts for a post-lockdown and Covid-19 trading environment. “While it’s a relatively small sample, I believe it represents sentiment amid a total lack of any other kind of data.”

  • South Africans’ state of being during the lockdown period reveals that 32% of respondents admitting to having cabin fever and 31% saying the opposite while 36% of respondents note that they ‘sometimes’ get cabin fever.

Shopping for anything but groceries ranked third as ‘most-missed activity’

  • In a ranking question, an overwhelming 67% said that they miss going out to restaurants, cinemas, theatre and casinos while 54% of respondents also miss spending time with family and friends. Shopping for anything but groceries ranked third as ‘most-missed activity’ at 21% and 18% of those surveyed miss work. Many respondents are separated from their loved ones too, with comments about lovers, partners and family as well as gym and going to church. One respondent lamented tongue in cheek about missing time ‘away from my family’.

A total of 33% of their time respondents were spending time with their family and children

  • In another ranking question, respondents said that in dividing their time at home chores and maintenance around the house are keeping them busy (58%) and many others are working from home during lockdown (59%). A total of 33% of their time respondents were spending time with their family and children while ranking indicates 37% of respondents are sleeping, reading and watching TV.
  • The survey indicated that 73% of respondents ranked going to a restaurant for dinner as the first activity they will engage in after lockdown while 8% ranked going to the movies or gaming while 11% want to go to the mall. Other comments included taking children out for a day of fun and having a braai with friends and family. Just over 11% of respondents also said that they don’t really know what they will be doing after lockdown.

Staying at home and not going out too often as the most likely behavioural outcome

  • Curiously, a future-focused question ranked staying at home and not going out too often as the most likely behavioural outcome and 28% of respondents noting the same. Twenty-four percent ranked to continue working from home as a preference while 13% said ordering-in dinner as opposed to restaurant visits will become their norm. Online shopping as an alternative to mall-ratting received 16% support from respondents.
  • Of those surveyed 63% oworried about the economy and their job security after the lockdown period has ended, with 51% ranking concern over whether Covid-19 would have been contained by that time. Ranking third, respondents indicate uncertainty with 20% saying they don’t know what is next. Many comments included concern for the poor, the homeless and family and friends’ future.

a positive outcome for domestic tourism?

  • There is a positive outcome for domestic tourism with 36% of respondents ranking local self-drive holidays and 19% noted local holidays via air travel as their most likely choice for vacationing and 28% of people ranked regional beach holidays like Zanzibar and Mauritius as choices while only 13% said international holidays remain on their radar. Many side-comments included bush-holidays and indicate decisions are budget-reliant.
  • In an open-ended question about what respondents purchased prior to the lockdown, the common denominator was groceries, perishables and cigarettes for smokers along with alcoholic beverages. Chocolate, pasties and snacks received frequent mentions, while arts and crafts and items to keep children entertained also received substantial mention along with cleaning and hygiene products, medication, toiletries and, interestingly, biltong. A handful noted a potential longing for junk food with several mentions of pizza, frozen or otherwise.

“I can certainly identify with the results of the snap survey,” says Nichas, who believes that it reasonably represents sentiment right now. “We are all uncertain, crave a measure of social interaction, albeit likely different to before in terms of levels of engagement, while experiencing quite a lot of stress about the economy and security of income. We need one another more than ever and, as communities, we must stand together and support each other.”

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