Google Trends: US Consumer, Summer Vacation

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Google Trends: US Consumer, Summer Vacation

Today we will show you 7 Google Trends search volume charts to answer 2 questions:

  • How much have US household budgets reset in the last month due to the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and what are users Googling that might relate to getting back to work?
  • What will happen to Summer 2020 vacation season?

#1: A comparison of Google searches for “Food Stamps” and “Coupon” over the last 90 days. This shows a noticeable shift from consumers looking for good deals (fewer coupon searches) to needing fundamental assistance with grocery money (more food stamp searches).

#2: Google searches for “pay rent” over the last 90 days started to spike on March 17th as states started to close non-essential businesses and hit a high on April 1 as the next month’s rent came due. The scale of the change points to roughly 4x more renters (residential and commercial) unable to pay as was the case before COVID-19.

#3: Allstate’s announcement that it would refund car insurance policies since their customers are driving less may sound like benevolence, but the truth is the industry needs to get out ahead of a wave of policy cancellations. Here is the 90-day chart for “cancel car insurance”:

#4: Lastly, here in New York City we’re all coming to grips with the idea that we will have to wear masks or other nose/mouth coverings for some time to come, especially when using mass transit or walking in the street. That realization seems to be hitting a lot of Americans, in fact, because Google searches for “mask” now handily outnumber queries for “toilet paper”, the initial fad item of the COVID-19 era:

#5: Switching to Summer 2020, it’s probably no surprise that Google searches for “vacation” are at 5-year lows right now. The good news is that early April is always a slow time for such planning (see the troughs below). The bad news is that searches last week were still 46% below the year ago levels.

One important finding from this data: late June is the peak non-Holiday period for vacation planning in the US. As long as COVID-19 is contained and public health measures are in place by early June, US summer vacation season should not therefore be a total bust.

#6: A “Disney vacation” is a quintessentially American family bucket list excursion, but COVID-19 has put a crimp in this as well. The planning cycle here is different from “vacation”, and Google searches actually peak in late December (presumably that’s the family’s “big present”). The parks are closed until further notice, of course, but whenever they do reopen we have little doubt they will fill up again quickly. At least to levels of appropriate physical distancing…

#7: Finally, the most surprising Google Trend chart of all: search volumes for “take a cruise” and “book a cruise”, neither one of which is substantially lower than the bottom end of their 5-year histories. If nothing else, this is clear evidence that humans like what they like and don’t change easily. Rumors of the cruise industry’s demise may well have been greatly exaggerated after all.