COVID expectations set, except for economic recovery 

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The personal  COVID concern index has been below 50 for two weeks in a row, and family concern has dropped to a similar level this week. A reading of 50 on these indices would be equivalent to all respondents being only ‘somewhat’ worried about the COVID-19 threat. 

The office is optional 

The professional concern index remains above 50 though, reflecting a lack of comfort with the precautionary measures which businesses are taking to reopen. While some now have the option of returning to their offices, respondents in our weekly survey continue working from home.
Some in our research panel are worried that clients may start asking for in-person meetings, which would require staff to take public transport and mix with bigger groups – an additional risk they are unwilling to take in the absence of a vaccine. 

COVID-19 precautions are familiar 

The reopening of pubs and other parts of the economy have highlighted that in some situations, younger (and sometimes older) people are not concerned for their safety and the need for social distancing, so virus flare-ups remain a possibility. 

But there is a sense that we know what to expect from such a situation. And while the UK government’s approach to lockdown easing continues to attract criticism, the disapproval levels have improved from last week – only 37% are ‘very’ to ‘extremely’ worried about the latest guidance, compared with 55% last week.
While complaints from our research panel revolve around the lack of clarity, consistency and reliance on data in updating COVID-19 guidance, some also accuse the UK government of lies and cover-ups in their handling of the pandemic. 

One thing is becoming obvious – the reopening of facilities is making people more confident and less worried about social distancing. This is perhaps why they expect the minimum duration of the outbreak to be shorter than they did last week, leaving the estimate for the end of November unchanged.

Economic recovery remains the only unknown   

With unprecedented stimulus measures keeping the UK and global economy afloat, the way out of the crisis is still long. But our research panel understands that things need to move on somehow – the economic impact so far has not been as bad as the most pessimistic forecasts, while equity markets have recovered and allowed pension schemes to derisk and take profits. 

But these developments have highlighted an odd relationship between wealth and the economy – personal wealth has increased in the swift market recovery, but unemployment remains at elevated levels. Equities may have regained in value, but the property market remains at risk, and small businesses need more help to recover. This is perhaps why the expected minimum duration of the macro consequences of the pandemic has extended again, by 18%.

What would make you more optimistic about the economic recovery post-COVID-19? Click here to tell us in next week’s survey. 


Previous articles in this series: 


About the COVID Concern Index 

This short weekly survey helps gauge sentiment of our community on the pandemic. The results are distributed each week via the community newsletter. 

The COVID Concern Index values should be used as indication only and do not constitute advice. Their values are bound by the choices available in the survey on which they are based. 

COVID Concern Index:                                 

  • 0 = respondents are not worried at all                           
  • 100 = respondents are extremely worried                     

Expected minimum duration of outbreak:                                         

  • Lowest possible value = 1 month                      
  • Highest possible value = 6 months                    

Expected minimum duration of macro effects:

A methodology change took place on 15/04/2020, affecting data from 21/04/2020 onwards. 

Prior to 15/04/2020:      

  • Lowest possible value = 3 months                     
  • Highest possible value = 12 months                 

Following 15/04/2020:  

  • Lowest possible value = 3 months                     
  • Highest possible value = 60 months                 

Concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and its macro implications? Click here to take part in the weekly COVID-19 survey.