We’ve all had a tough few months and recent weeks have started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Soaring vaccination rates and roadmaps out of lockdown mean Australia is starting to look forward with optimism. For Out-of-Home media, we are positive about a swift economic recovery and audience rebound as restrictions begin to be eased.
THE END IN SIGHT
For the first time since late June, residents of NSW and VIC have seen glimmers of hope as state governments announce roadmaps out of lockdown. Greater availability of vaccines has meant states are growing closer to 70% and 80% vaccination targets. Those in Sydney who are fully vaccinated are looking forward to mid October when visiting friends and family, hospitality venues, gyms and beauty services are all likely. Easing restrictions is also bringing hope to the arts, entertainment and sporting sectors. Theatres are rescheduling performances, upcoming festivals are announcing programs and major race days are applying to have crowds attend Royal Randwick Racecourse as early as October 16th.
As vaccination rates increase and the prospect of easing restrictions help to boost confidence, many economists predict that the pent-up demand will result in “revenge spend”. A strong rebound in consumer spending is predicted because of the savings accumulated during lockdown. Similar results were seen after 2020’s lockdowns, with the retail sector overall up 12% in May 2021 compared to pre-pandemic¹. Even hardest hit categories such as hospitality, and major department stores (such as those in the CBD) saw growth. This suggests that the economy will not just recover, but it will boost sectors that involve people getting out of home again. Similar trends have been seen internationally. A major UK study by EY found that consumers were planning to spend more on holidays (43%), personal care services (29%) and out-of-home recreation (37%) post lockdown.
COMMUTER AUDIENCE REBOUND
Roy Morgan mobility data demonstrated that when Brisbane’s CBD exited lockdown in August, movement levels had increased by 30% within 2 weeks. Over the past 12 months these spikes of recovery have been evident across all Eastern Seaboard CBDs post-lockdown. The same recovery can be seen across commuter audiences. A global study by McKinsey which analysed responses from the US, UK, Italy, France, China and Japan found that throughout the pandemic, while public transport usage was initially affected, it had almost returned to pre-pandemic levels by June 2021 (only -6%). TorchMedia’s own 2020 analysis showed commuter audiences bounced back quickly once restrictions were eased.
So what do we see driving this commuter rebound? The promise easing restrictions will result in a rush of increased spending out of the home – in hospitality, arts and entertainment, and bricks-and-mortar retail in the lead up to Christmas. The NSW Government is proposing a range of initiatives to encourage a reinvigorated city – including alfresco dining and pedestrian areas to get more people out and about. In October the return to schools and socialising outside of home, will see mobility and commuter numbers begin to rise. These will continue climb as workers return to the office, borders start to open and holiday travel is planned into November and December.
After a long winter indoors, this spring is the time to be saying “Welcome Back!”. We are looking forward to what will be a bright summer.
¹ABS Retail Trade, data until May 2021