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UK populous shows compliance towards public health measures


As the world slowly begins to re-open to normality, it is essential we still follow fundamental guidance to ensure we take the next steps to the government's roadmap safely and cautiously. 87% of adults have reported handwashing when returning home and 97% use a face covering; both figures remain unchanged from last week (the period 7 to 11 April 2021).


This is a great reassurance to many consumers who will be wary of the easing of restrictions, as the great majority of people are complying with advice and legislation, which is there for our safety. Due to the easing of lockdown restrictions, more people have left their homes in the past week. (20% of adults compared to 14% last week). The main reasons for people leaving their homes were to do with shopping for basic necessities and needs, as many people still rely on online shopping on sites such as amazon, who have seen sales skyrocket as the confidence to go out shopping and the ability to do so has been restricted too. E-commerce sales are expected to reach almost $795 billion this year, up about 32 per cent from last year, according to data research firm eMarketer.


Following on from this, 12% of adults went to do leisure activities compared to last week's 8%, and 18% went to collect a takeaway/food or drinks, an increase from 15%. This slow and stable increase illustrates directly how we are beginning the economic recovery phase as a result of our trough, and in fact, recessive period of the business cycle which has lasted for over a year now, and consumer confidence rising helps to kick start a return to increased levels of consumer spending. Trading economics demonstrates the increase in confidence in the table below.

This spending by consumers is absolutely essential to see further economic growth (in order to trigger demand-pull inflation), as we saw earlier in the year as a direct result of government intervention with the eat out to help out scheme, which saw £500 million of the government budget spent to fund this scheme; however, this was acting as a huge opportunity cost where the NHS are in desperate need of extra vital PPE, especially at the time of the scheme's inauguration.


Therefore the increase in government spending witnessed here thereby triggered a multiplier effect, leading to more consumer spending with more confidence, an increase in business spending to cater for the rise in demand for their goods/services, and as a result, a huge increase in aggregate demand as the UK desperately tries to fight off the implications of the coronavirus, at least for the short term.


On the flip side, however, 54% of adults met up with someone outside their household, childcare or support bubble in the last seven days, a decrease from last week's 57% level. This decrease in socialising between different households is as a result of people slowly returning to the workplace, with face-to-face contact, as well as schools returning for the new term, as 55% of adults reported leaving for work, a sizable increase from February’s 44% level. This, therefore, is a positive factor as businesses can re-organise staff with face to face communication, allowing them to be more productive and also more motivated rather than sitting at home with many various distractions such as pets, children, or even mobile phones. Furthermore, personal well-being levels remained stable, life satisfaction was at 6.9 this week as well as 6.9 last week, the pre-covid levels during February 2020 were at 7.3. This is a huge boost as compared to lockdown levels when socialising was a strict minimum and a sadness struck the many…


However, on the flip side, this may lead to many implications with regard to COVID-19 cases, as we experienced with the easing of restrictions last year. The rising in consumer confidence poses a threat to public health and all we have worked towards, with less vulnerable people being told to shield, this allows the risk of catching COVID a very prevalent issue. Furthermore, with shops, cafes, bars and other venues soon becoming more bustling, the spread of this pain-staking disease widens, also posing a risk to front-line workers who are already in short supply. With more workers leaving with sickness, or even the implication of the recent long-covid symptoms, a reduction in productive capacities and factor inputs to both the economy and businesses could be very significant and leads to an argument of whether public health is the main priority, or in fact, our crippled economy is.


But, this may not be as big of an issue due to the vaccine rollout, positive sentiment towards the COVID-19 vaccine remained high; 93% of adults reported they had now either received a vaccine or would be likely to have a vaccine if offered. Therefore the vaccine rollout is massively critical into ensuring our recovery, upon the third attempt to re-open or economy, with herd-immunity becoming closer and closer, and the 93% of adults who agreed to have the vaccine or have already had it, ensure we can reopen with relative haste, but ultimate safety too, which leads to the very promising prospect of economic recovery, as we phase through the government's road map.

 

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Written by Euan Taylor Research compiled by Hubert Kucharski

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