We have been in crisis mode for nearly a year. The global pandemic has been affecting our lives in Europe for eleven months now. What still seemed like a short-term, temporary state of emergency before the first lockdown in March has now come to define our new normal.
Looking back, we took the opportunity to ask the same question again: How has the pandemic impacted our media and leisure behaviour? And as we discovered, some of the changes that began to emerge last spring are now here to stay. This was the result of latest survey on the global pandemic in the Burda media panel. We also asked: How will Christmas be celebrated this year in the shadow of the pandemic?
One initial finding is that the coronavirus is apparently not perceived as any less threatening since the last panel survey in March. As before, more than one in two respondents (55 per cent) in the Burda media panel is afraid or very afraid of becoming infected with the coronavirus. The concern about becoming infected is only surpassed by the concern over one’s family.
Seven months after the first survey, it now appears that the coronavirus has had a lasting impact on the lives of the majority of respondents. It is now part of most peoples’ new everyday reality to wear a mask, practise physical distancing and avoid gatherings. Some have chosen to lead a healthier lifestyle due to the coronavirus; they pay more attention to what they eat or take supplements to protect themselves from infection.
The coronavirus has also had a lasting impact on the way people consume media. This is driven in part by the increased need for information, but also by an overall change in leisure behaviour. When meeting up with friends is not an option, there is more time for reading, watching TV or browsing the Internet. In addition, going for walks and tidying up are still among the top five (new) leisure activities.
Even so, 66 per cent (compared to 77 per cent in the spring) claimed that they seek out news about the current situation more often than before the pandemic. As before, this mainly benefits public TV channels, followed by newspapers, news magazines and radio. The trustworthiness of the media and the diversity of the information are particularly important.
The top five news sources still include the official website of the German Federal Ministry of Health and the website of the Robert Koch Institute, followed by the news websites of established media brands. Magazines in particular are a key source of background information as well as diversion and entertainment.
With regard to information behaviour, 81 per cent of respondents still feel well informed by the German government (compared to 86 per cent in the first survey last spring). Confidence in the healthcare system has risen. In this regard, 88 per cent currently believe that Germany is in a good to extremely good position (compared to 81 per cent in March).
However, it is also clear that people are becoming increasingly divided over the measures introduced by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While less than half of the respondents (46 per cent, compared to 73 per cent in March) consider the measures to be sufficient, the proportion of people who find the measures excessive has increased from 7 per cent to 18 per cent over the past seven months. Even so, around half of the respondents feel optimistic about a vaccine and hopeful that it will allow them to return to life as it was before the global pandemic.
The coronavirus has clearly disrupted the Christmas plans of many of us. While people used to plan their holidays in every detail, they are now unable to make arrangements with any certainty. However, this should not have too great an effect on Christmas sales. When it comes to Christmas shopping, the planned budget has not changed for the majority of respondents. Only one in five respondents plans to spend less money on gifts this year.
In any case, those rare moments of contemplation that tend to get buried during the hectic pre-Christmas season may be the real gift this year, as most people are preparing to spend Christmas quietly at home for the most part. Some intend to make it especially cosy, decorate more, bake and indulge themselves.
>> The study, including additional key figures on the overall mood with regard to coronavirus restrictions and other details, is available here.