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11 February 2021

Understanding consumer behaviour during Covid-19 lockdowns

Case rate at a local level is an important influence

A magnified image of the Covid-19 virus

Working with colleagues at Dutch bank AMBN AMRO, researchers from King’s Business School have used transaction data to understand what influences consumer spending during lock-down periods. Their findings suggest that in addition to the lockdown restrictions, consumers’ response to the intensity of the Covid-19 virus in their area is an important factor in determining the economic impact of the pandemic.

The team used data from ‘in person’ card transactions made by ABN AMRO’s two million customers in the Netherlands over the spring and summer to observe the different patterns of behaviour in areas where levels of the virus were very high, and areas where the level of infections was lower.

They found that the scale of the outbreak in a municipality, as measured by the amount of hospitalisations, had a strong negative effect on physical transactions by consumers. This was despite the fact that lockdown measures were introduced at the same time and with the same stringency across the whole country. The transaction data also showed that the worse affected the area, the more residents reduced the frequency of their supermarket visits and ordered more online.

Governments are anxious to start easing restrictions but the trade-off between health and the economy is not a simple one. Governments first need to ensure that people feel confident about going out to spend.

Nora Neuteboom, Senior Economist at ABN AMRO and King’s Business School research student

The research team included: Pascal Golec, ABN AMRO; Professor George Kapetanios, King's Business School; Nora Neuteboom, ABN AMRO & King's Business School, Feiko Ritsema, ABN AMRO and Dr Alexia Ventouri, King's Business School.



In this story

George Kapetanios

Professor of Finance and Econometrics

Alexia Ventouri

Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Banking and Finance