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How consumer behaviour has changed during COVID — and what that will do to our economy: podcast

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Reading a magazine article the other day, I was struck by a report that life in many parts of China has essentially returned to normal, or is returning much faster than it is here. There’s been some discussion about how authoritarian or semi-authoritarian governments are better equipped to manage the impacts of COVID-19 basically because they can order you to stay home, or say wear a mask.

This week, on Down to Business, Anindya Sen, an economist at the University of Waterloo, speaks about how consumer behavior has changed during the pandemic. Sen and several colleagues have been studying data released by Google on how consumer traffic across various retail categories from grocery stores to bars and restaurants has changed.

Consumer behavior serves as a proxy for how we interact with government shutdown orders, and Sen found many Canadians actually started staying home long before their provinces issued health guidelines instructing people to social distance. Now, he said, many young people are going back to bars.

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