Feelings, habits, and attitudes: Italians in Covid-19 times (Wave 2 – Update)

During the Covid-19 emergency almost half of the active population continues to work, and smart workers are now getting used to these new ways of working.

In this unusual context, there is an increase in the use of digital technologies to manage personal finances, with a + 35% in the use of credit cards, a + 29% usage of Internet banking and a + 25% of bank apps for smartphones. There is also a strong shared fear about the impact on investments, especially in the stock market and in the real estate market, from now to the next few months.

In Italy, free time at home is mostly spent reading online news, watching TV or using social media; people admitting to stumble on fake news grow to 76%. Newscast, news sites, and newspapers give the most reliable news, whereas Whatsapp and social networks are the most unreliable channels.

People still go outside to do groceries rather than choosing online shopping exclusively, and there is a tendency of buying more supplies (+ 10% compared to the first wave); attention to food waste remains constant (87%). The most shared desires in a post-emergency scenario are going out for happy hours, small trips outside the cities and lunches or dinners at restaurants.

This is what emerges from the latest BVA Doxa research on the opinions and predictions of Italians during Coronavirus times; the study focused on work, financial world, media, spending and consumer habits and on Italians’ wish-list of post-emergency activities.

Italians appear smarter when it comes to dealing with personal finances and with their own bank, more careful about the quality of news on social networks and more longing for out of town trips and happy hours as soon as the emergency is over. This is the portrait of Italians that emerged from the latest survey conducted in Italy by BVA Doxa regarding the main impacts of Covid-19 virus on the Italian population. The research – conducted on a representative sample of 1000 Italians in the period 27-30 March 2020 – focused on work, financial world, media, spending and consumption habits and Italians’ wish-list of post-emergency activities. The survey is the second wave of a weekly observatory started on March the 20th, which keeps analyzing a few trends and integrate other ad-hoc trends over the weeks.

WORKING DURING AN EMERGENCY: SMART WORKING IS SUCCESSFUL – The percentage of Italians who keep working during the emergency didn’t change from the first wave (45%), but the share of people working from home (smartworking) increases (29%); on the other hand, the share of people who need to go to their workplaces in order to keep working decreases (16%, -3% compared to the first wave). When asked about the workload, the picture remains more or less the same compared to the first wave: two out of three employees say the workload is the same or in some cases higher than before the crisis (27%), while one in three employees noticed their workload decreased (35%).

Smart workers are getting used to this emergency situation and 84% keeps considering the technological support appropriate. Only 19% of smart workers admit they lack the proper tools in order to get their job done from home.

No big changes were found in the share of smart workers who can focus as much as they do at their own workplaces (72%). On the other hand, more workers now admit they will return to work in offices/workplaces with the right precautionary measures (41%).

When employees are asked to think about a post-emergency scenario at work, 64% share the belief the first priority for companies will be the need to adhere to the new safety and sanitary measures.

BANKS ARE GOING DIGITAL, BUT A FEW  UNCERTAINTIES ON SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS – The Covid-19 emergency affected the way Italians handle their personal finances: credit cards are more used now (+35%), as well as Internet banking (29%), and apps from their own banks (+25%). On the opposite, withdrawing money and going directly to banks for activities such as consultancy are definitely decreasing: 30% of Italians are going less often to bank branches, while 20% reduced their visits to offices.

The lockdown certainly played an important role in favoring these behaviors: in the first wave, the increase in the use of website or home banking apps stopped at + 18% compared to before the emergency, while in the last survey it rises to + 35% compared to before isolation. Furthermore, with forced quarantine, telephone contacts with their bank advisors increased by 15%. 65% of respondents believe that this crisis will negatively impact investments in the stock market, in the commercial real estate market in large cities (62%), in residential real estate market in large centers (58%) and in the province (57%).

SOCIAL MEDIA AS MAIN SOURCE OF FAKE NEWS – Increasingly more Italians admit having read an article or a post on social media which turned out to be fake news: compared to the first wave results (70% people reading fake news), an increase of +6% was found, which points to how many potential fake news one can stumble on while using social networks.

In a reliability raking, Whatsapp or on social media news are still deemed as the most unreliable: on a reliability scale from 1 to 10, they score respectively 4.6 and a 5, way below what an average reliable news should gain. No changes were found when it comes to newscasts (7.3), news sites (6.8), magazines and newspapers (6.5), which still obtain discrete scores and are therefore confirmed as the most reliable tools to read about coronavirus. Political talk shows are almost sufficient, with an average of 5.6.

As for the use of social media, users mainly use them to make video calls with colleagues and friends (73%) and share initiatives related to the emergency, using the hashtag #iorestoacasa (“stay home”) or participating in the various flash mobs organized to cheer the days up (43%).

Consumers pay increasingly more attention to how companies behave and choose to contribute for the better: 69% of Italians (+ 9% compared to the first wave), in fact, read positive comments on companies’ contributions to help society in crisis, while less people (the share decreased to 10%) react negatively on social media news regarding companies’ choices or behaviors.

MORE SUPPLIES AND ATTENTION TO FOOD WASTE – Despite 90% of Italians still goes outside to do groceries, the percentage of people buying supplies exclusively online slightly increses (10%, two percentage points more than the first wave). Among people who exclusively do online shopping and groceries, 61% started after the coronavirus emergency, while only 7% already did it before with the same frequency. On the other hand, 32% did groceries online already before the crisis, and since the spread of the virus does so more often.

Compared to the 20th -24th of March, +10% of consumers are buying more supplies (73%) and settle for available brands instead of looking for their usual choices (52%). However, consumers who keep choosing their usual products and stay loyal to their brands of choice is still high (48%).

Nothing new on the attention paid to food waste: 87% of consumers is very careful not throwing away the food and products they buy. Since restaurants and public places are closed, the consumption of dishes entirely prepared at home increases by 52% of Italians, with an increase of 8% compared to the first wave. Home food-deliveries also increase, while fewer Italians consume ready-made dishes or meals that only need to be warmed up.

Despite 56% did not change their usual diet during Coronavirus crisis, 44% slightly modified their food and consumption habits, favoring more healthy choices: people eat more healthy food (14%), experiment new recipes (12%), involve children in the cooking process (8%). However, there are still a few (8%) who eat out of boredom. The majority of respondents (81%) believe companies should not stop producing and that they should keep with their marketing plans as well, in order to sell more and support the economy.

TRIPS AND HAPPY HOURS: ITALIANS’ POST-EMERGENCY WISH-LIST – Being the lockdown difficult to bear, Italians are already dreaming about their post-emergency activities. Small out-of-town escapes and trips are the first desires shared by 48% of the population, followed by happy hours, lunches and dinners (39%, 33% of them outside), organizing travels and holidays (38%, 31% in Italy and 11% abroad), visiting museums, or going to movies (30%), shopping (27%), sports (24%), or visiting parks and doing outside activities (19%).

The same goes for those activities that Italians plan to do more often than usual: small trips (35%), happy hours, lunches and dinners (32%, 27% of them outside), organizing travels and holidays (28%, 23% in Italy), visiting museums, or going to movies (20%), shopping (17%), and visiting parks and doing outside activities (16%). Despite the lower shares, some people admit they will be more available for voluntary activities (5%), and read books (5%), which is considered a newly found passion for many during the lockdown.

In a post-emergency scenario, Italians are more likely to buy more local products and services coming from Italian companies, while 48% will buy products and services from companies who acted responsibly during the emergency. 47% will be more careful to prevent diseases and 43% will pay more attention to cleaning and sanitizing rooms, clothes, and objects. Finally, 23% will consume less sugar-based products and only 14% will buy more supermarket brands.

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