News | Published June 23 2020

FlyResearch poll: week 12 update

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. In conversation with The Parliamentary Review, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the findings from the twelfth wave of the Covid-19 tracker survey, published on June 18 and sourced from data collected on June 5, and his analysis painted a picture of consistency when measured up against the findings from the previous week.

As has consistently been the case throughout Ward’s presentation of the Covid-19 tracker survey’s findings, he began his analysis by addressing the health and wellbeing of panellists and their associates, and there were some real positives to take from the fact that movement had been minimal from the previous week.

Ward said: “The statistics concerning the health of our panel members and their associates are almost completely unchanged from the previous week. Slightly more respondents polled in this week to say that they are not suffering from symptoms, but given that the change from last week to this has simply been a 52 per cent to 53 per cent transition, it is not a change of any statistical significance.”

Meanwhile, 39 per cent of panel members reported to say that they had been emotionally affected by the pandemic, a figure which has not shifted more than one per cent in the previous six weeks.

Addressing this, Ward said: “The number of panel members informing us that their mental health has been affected during this time is still higher than we would like, but the lack of upward movement in this figure over the last few weeks is a cause for optimism at least.”

Concerning the number of panellists reporting to have known somebody who has passed away as a result of Covid-19, this number remained fixed at 12 per cent, having reached no higher than 13 per cent back in the tenth week of polling.

Elaborating on this figure, Ward explained: “Although the number of deaths continues to increase, albeit more slowly than it has done, we have seen no increase in the number of respondents who know somebody that has passed away.

“We are by no means out of the woods yet, but we can deduce that a corner has been turned.”

Moving on to analyse the statistics around the employment status of panel members, Ward was quick to point out that compared with the previous week, the percentage of respondents furloughed [12 per cent] and those not working [38 per cent] remained unchanged, while the percentage of people who had been made redundant had fallen from two per cent to one per cent. Meanwhile, the number of employed people rose by one per cent [to 41 per cent overall].

Ward added: “Of course, the lack of movement may not be great news for those who have been made redundant or have been furloughed, but we can take some comfort from the fact that matters are no longer deteriorating in this regard.

“With businesses beginning to reopen, we should begin to see some real shifts in these numbers before too long.”

One question that has remained consistent throughout FlyResearch’s Covid-19 tracker survey quizzes respondents on their emotions over the pandemic situation. Following a surge over the tenth week of polling in the number of panellists polling in to say they felt ‘angry’ about the current state of affairs [rising to 26 per cent], this number has now dropped to 23 per cent.

In the previous survey, the sentiment of anger correlated with a further decline in support for the UK government’s handling of the crisis.

FlyResearch typically measures approval ratings of the government’s approach via a one to ten scale, one signalling that its approach has been tantamount to a ‘disaster’ and ten being ‘extremely positive’.

Once more in this week’s poll, the figures relating to the panel’s approval of the government’s approach do not display any clear differences from the previous week.

Moving on to analyse these figures, Ward said: “Given how badly the panel’s support for the government has waned over the last few weeks, one week without any real changes cannot exactly be read as good news for Boris Johnson and his top team. Yet, there is the positive that it has not gotten any worse in that regard.

“This week, we have seen 16 per cent of respondents scoring the government in the eight to ten range, with 41 per cent scoring a one to three. This has marginally shifted from the 15 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, which were recorded last week. However, I would reiterate that these changes do not really bear any statistical significance.

“Yet, the shift in numbers does mean that the number of respondents scoring the government within the four to seven range has fallen from 45 per cent to 42 per cent in the space of a week, so opinions may be slightly hardening.”

Elsewhere in the poll, FlyResearch had for the first-time in last week’s survey integrated a new question about whether its panel members felt the government was moving too quickly or too slowly for comfort with regards to lifting lockdown restrictions. At that stage, the panel scored a summary rating of +26 on a scale where -100 signals restrictions are being lifted far too slowly, while +100 would signify that restrictions are being lifted far too quickly. This question featured once again in the latest round of surveys, with the overall score dropping slightly to +24.

Explaining the reasoning behind the slight fall, Ward said: “Around 17 per cent of our panel members informed us in our latest poll that they believed restrictions were being lifted far too quickly. This was a drop of five per cent compared to last week, which brought the overall chart score down slightly.”

As has been the case in previous weeks, FlyResearch took the opportunity in the latest wave of polling to put more unique questions to its panel members that have not featured in previous surveys to date.

Presenting the unique questions and their findings, Ward said: “We wanted to know what our panel members thought about the fact that various non-essential stores were due to reopen. What we have noticed is that hairdressers and beauty salons are among those that respondents are most keen to return to.

“21 per cent of panellists told us that they would either be ‘first in the queue’ or ‘happy to go’ whenever hairdressers and beauty salons can reopen. This compares with 54 per cent who described themselves as ‘particularly cautious’ about attending such places, indicating that they would rather wait for a cure or vaccine, or simply wait several weeks longer.”

However, there was an almighty contrast when one looked into the figures surrounding returning to sporting events.

Ward elaborated: “82 per cent of panel members indicated they’d be cautious about attending sporting events again as and when they resume, while just seven per cent told us that they’d be keen to return to them.”

Responses across the retail sector were largely consistent in the poll. Of the three types of non-essential store that FlyResearch listed, including clothing, electronic, and other, 55 per cent, 58 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, polled in to say that they would be cautious about returning. Across all three, between 13 and 14 per cent responded to say that they would be among the first to go shopping in such stores upon reopening. It suffices to say, therefore, that this constitutes a strong sentiment of caution, but it would pale in comparison to public opinion over returning to other premises.

Ward said: “Overall, there is a sizeable amount of caution over returning to shops which should not be ignored, but this is even more apparent concerning people going out and enjoying themselves once pubs and restaurants reopen. A huge 72 per cent majority said that they would be cautious about returning to pubs, while only nine per cent would be keen to return immediately.

“For restaurants, 67 per cent expressed a wish to exercise caution over returning compared to 11 per cent who favoured a quick return, while for the cinema we saw 74 per cent of the panel indicate caution and eight per cent a wish to flock to the big screen once cinemas reopen their doors.

“As we know, the government has revealed that the social distancing requirement will be reduced from two metres to one metre in an effort to kick-start some of these businesses, yet this change is still to be reflected in these polls.”

The two-metre versus one-metre debate over social distancing regulations was not overlooked by the poll for the latest week, and what it uncovered was that in practice, panel members would not greet the reduction of social distancing regulations warmly.

Ward said: “For this question, we asked panellists how they would feel about returning to pubs and restaurants with two-metre, one-metre or no social distancing in place. For pubs, 62 per cent of individuals would be cautious about returning with two-metre social distancing regulations in place, 71 per cent in the case of one-metre being practised, while 82 per cent would feel cautious about returning with no social distancing in place.

“There’s a similar story for restaurants with 59 per cent saying they’d feel cautious about returning with a two-metre distance in force, 69 per cent for one-metre, and 81 per cent with no social distancing.

“All in all, the figures suggest that if members of the public are tempted to return to eating and drinking out, the exact rules in place at the time could be vital.”

In the final segment of the latest FlyResearch Covid-19 poll, Ward explained that the agency had included two questions which had been suggested by panel members themselves. These enquired as to whether respondents thought the government should consider introducing different guidance in certain local regions, and secondly as to whether the nation should look to consolidate some of the unexpected benefits the pandemic and lockdown has had on nature and the wellbeing of the environment.

Presenting the responses for these questions, Ward highlighted: “43 per cent of the panel thought that bringing in more localised guidelines could ‘possibly’ be a good idea, while 26 per cent polled in to say they thought it was definitely a good idea. This was paired up against eight per cent who suggested it might not be the best plan and seven per cent who were in opposition. 17 per cent simply replied that they ‘weren’t sure’.

“Elsewhere, the responses around consolidating some of the benefits that lockdown has had on the environment as we begin to return to work were positive. 38 per cent of the panel believed that doing so was vital, while 22 per cent agreed but were wary of a need to compromise. In contrast, three per cent were outright opposed to the idea, while a further 11 per cent said that the economic recovery should be prioritised with climate issues addressed later.”

The meaning behind the figures for the newer questions will inevitably become clearer in the weeks to come, should FlyResearch opt to persist with including them in its polls. 

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
June 23 2020

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