News | Published May 11 2020

FlyResearch poll: week six update

London based online market research agency FlyResearch has been issuing weekly polls to its research panel throughout the coronavirus pandemic to project how the outbreak has been impacting the daily life of UK citizens. In conversation with The Parliamentary Review, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the poll findings for the week commencing May 4, which have yielded signs that the tide may be turning on Covid-19 as prime minister Boris Johnson had indicated.

Despite the numbers showing some “green shoots of hope” prior to the PM presenting his “roadmap” out of lockdown on Sunday, Ward stressed prior to presenting them that any signs of a turnaround are still faint, and that caution should be heeded.

Ward said: “I must emphasise that these numbers are a bit of a guess and when we see the next crop of results, it may present an entirely different outlook.”

He added: “However, with regards to our first two questions, which enquire as to how our panellists and those close to them are getting on from a health perspective, almost all of the data is identical to the previous week [commencing April 27]. That includes, for the very first time, no increase in the percentage of respondents who know somebody that has passed away.”

In reality, the figure of individuals knowing somebody who had died of Covid-19 had fallen from ten percent in the fifth week of polling, to nine per cent this time around.

Another marginal change, as Ward pointed out, saw a one per cent increase [from 26 per cent to 27 per cent] of people who knew somebody struggling emotionally as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown.

Summarising the numbers, Ward said: “Of course, it may not present a great conclusion, but we hope it is a positive sign of some light approaching at the end of the tunnel.”

The reasons for encouragement did not end there. The fifth week of polling once more showed a strong trend of respondents moving away from negative emotions of finding themselves “concerned” and “scared” during the lockdown and heading toward a more positive and “hopeful” mindset.

Ward explained that this positive trend in mental wellbeing had persisted throughout week six, yet a 47 per cent majority still described themselves as “concerned”. Yet, even those numbers had fallen from 52 per cent compared to the previous week. As of the opening week of polling [commencing March 30], that number stood at 65 per cent.

Ward added: “Likewise, the number of panellists describing themselves as ‘scared’ now stands at 17 per cent compared to 20 per cent in week five and 30 per cent in week one. In contrast, the number of respondents polling in as feeling ‘hopeful’ is up to 37 per cent, having increased from 34 per cent in week five, and from 28 per cent in week one.

“During the six weeks, we have also seen slow growth in two other positive emotions, those being the number of panellists feeling ‘stoic’ and ‘pragmatic’. We now have 18 per cent of the panel polling in as feeling ‘stoic’, while 25 per cent are feeling ‘pragmatic’.”

Despite an increase in positive emotions, there is a persistent decline in the panellists’ faith in the government’s response, which did not make for positive reading prior to the PM’s address over the weekend.

Ward explained: “We are continuing to see a downward slide in approval concerning the government’s approach to the pandemic. In our opening week of polling back in late March, the week after the lockdown was triggered, only 12 per cent scored the government a negative score of one, two or three out of ten, with one being a disaster and ten being positive.

“The number of panellists scoring the government’s strategy between one and three stood at 18 per cent in our fifth week of polling. It now stands at 20 per cent, with eight per cent scoring a one. Meanwhile, 34 per cent of people scored the government between eight and ten, which is actually an increase of two per cent compared to the previous week.

“It is, therefore, the middle ground of four, five and six that is being squeezed. 46 per cent of panellists polled in over these numbers. These responses are likely exacerbated by the fact that 39 per cent of our respondents are now informing us that they are ‘still employed’, a number which has fallen from 45 per cent in our opening polling week, and down again from 41 per cent recorded over weeks four and five. I feel the government should take not of this. They are gradual changes, but quite dramatic nonetheless when one considers the impact on family finances for those affected.”

FlyResearch will inevitably be keeping a close eye on these numbers ahead of the week seven poll, to gauge how the prime minister’s weekend address may influence them in future. However, prior to Johnson's Sunday speech, the week six poll put new questions before panellists, asking which restrictions should be eased first in their view in the event a phased lifting of the lockdown were implemented, as has proven to be the case.

A 53 per cent majority of the panel said that the government should concentrate on lifting restrictions surrounding open spaces, saying that this was “quite important”, “really important” or “critical”. Closely trailing was 47 per cent of people saying it was important to re-open a limited number of shops selling “semi-important” items. 29 per cent polled in as saying that restrictions should be lifted on individuals being able to travel within the UK. As of Wednesday, this will now be the case for residents of England under new government guidance.

Meanwhile, 37 per cent of respondents informed FlyResearch that they thought it was “important” to re-open schools, while 27 per cent favoured reopening hairdressers and beauty salons as a matter of importance.

By contrast, 23 per cent advocated reopening all shops as an important matter, with 22 per cent favouring a reopening of cultural spaces such as art galleries and museums as a priority.

Statistics that Ward found particularly interesting surrounded the reopening of hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants.

Ward highlighted: “Rather surprisingly, reopening pubs and restaurants was not deemed as important as might have been expected. Even with social distancing measures in force, just 17 per cent of the panel thought it was important for such businesses to reopen. Only seven per cent thought it important to reopen such businesses if social distancing were not be enforced on the premises.”

Following a similar trajectory was the number of panellists who deemed the resuming of sporting events as a priority. A mere 16 per cent of respondents said that hosting sporting events without fans in attendance was important, which dropped to six per cent in the scenario that fans were able to attend.

Travelling internationally polled in as “important” or above to just 15 per cent of the panel, while 11 per cent deemed it important or crucial to allow cinemas and theatres to open their doors.

Ward said: “It is reasonable to conclude that the vast majority of the panel accept the reasons behind the lockdown and advocate easing measures in a gradual and responsible manner.”

Another unique question that FlyResearch put to the poll in week six enquired about what panellists would do if social distancing remained in place for grocery shopping for the remainder of 2020. 59 per cent of individuals said that they would look to shop during less busy periods. 44 per cent indicated that they would shop less frequently but purchase more when they do so.

The number of panellists who reported that they would move more decisively toward shopping online brought about the biggest surprise in this area, according to Ward.

“Surprisingly few respondents planned to move more toward online purchasing. 27 per cent of the panel said that they would shop online more, while 25 per cent suggested that they would do all shopping online if it were possible.

“It is likely, however, that these figures could have polled in higher, were it not for the widely publicised issues surrounding delivery slots.”

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
May 11 2020

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