Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list

Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
Indians are comfortable heading back to grocery stores and pharmacies to pick up basic necessities even as the threat of COVID-19 looms large, according to Google's Mobility ReportBCCL
  • Google’s latest mobility numbers for India show that people are not staying at home as much.
  • Instead, they are taking public transport, visiting grocery stores and even heading for a stroll at their nearest public garden.
  • What they are not doing, however, is heading to the theatre to watch a movie or loitering around in a mall.
It has been nearly a year since India first announced that lockdowns would be implemented nationwide to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, while some places are showing signs over recovery, others are still deemed ‘not worth the risk’ by Indians.

The amount of time that people are spending at home is certainly declined. The massive uptake seen in April has gradually been coming down and hitting new lows in 2021. One likely reason is the COVID-19 vaccine drive and the other is the number of reported cases going down as well.

Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
Fewer people are staying home as restrictions ease and news of COVID-19 vaccines puts minds at easeBI India

Some are headed to work, others perhaps just to visit relatives who they have not seen in a long time. For many, the priority is access to basic necessities like supermarkets and pharmacies.
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Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
More people are heading to supermarkets and medical shops are compared to before the coronvirus lockdownBI India

In fact, the number of people heading out to buy groceries is higher than it was during the pre-COVID era. This can be attributed to people feeling less certain about ordering food from outside and, since they are staying at home more, there are more reasons to cook.

And that drive to leave the house can be tracked with more people heading to transit stations, according to Google. This includes metro stations, sea ports, taxi stands, highway rest stops and car rental agencies.

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Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
Certain special occasions, like Sankranti, see more rush on the roads than usualBCCL

Autos, bikes and taxis have shown the most recovery, according to research firm Red Seer’s report dated March 1. “The trend is inevitable as autos and bike taxis lower the risk of contracting the virus as per medical research,” it noted.

Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
People are more comfortable with travelling in 2021 than they were last yearBI India

Red Seer’s report said that the recovery of movement has been higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Kolkata has seen the most recovery as compared to the lockdown months followed by Mumbai and the country’s national capital, New Delhi.

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While one may think that it is the abundance of jobs in those cities that has more people heading to the office, workplace mobility has been fairly volatile as per Google’s Mobility report.

Most big wig companies, like India’s biggest IT services company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) or even Maruti Suzuki, have put in a hybrid workplace model. This means that people in certain roles can work from home in the long run. And, even if they come to work, it will be for limited periods of time.

Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
Workplace mobility remains volatile indicating that people are only going to office as per requirement with most companies moving to a hybrid workplace modeBI India

Malls, theatres and shopping areas are still waiting for the masses to return. While more people are heading out to catch a movie or do quick shopping as compared to the months of lockdown, the number is still 22% percent below pre-COVID levels, according to the numbers reflected in Google’s Mobility Index.
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Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
Indians are still wary about venturing to theatres, malls and shopping areasBI India

However, people are more than happy to return to parks and open spaces. This could be attributed to the weather getting better in northern states as winter comes to an end, or the relaxation of norms, which is allowing people to venture out into public gardens.

Indians are heading back to parks, supermarkets and pharmacies — but malls and theatres are not on the priority list
Movement towards parks is not back to pre-COVID levels but has recovered substantially over the last two monthsBI India

The uptake comes at a time when the government has started to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines to the masses. The first phase has been completed where in frontline workers were given their first dose. The second phase, which includes senior citizens above the age of 60 years and those older than 45 years with comorbidities, is set to kick-start on March 1.
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