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STUDY: Hotel, Travel and Retail Visits Drop; Grocery, Healthcare and Takeout Skyrocket Amid COVID-19

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New Local Search Data From 650,000 Business Locations in Five Countries Shows How COVID-19 Is Impacting Consumer Behavior

Uberall, Inc., the platform managing digital experiences for local businesses, released a new report examining how the coronavirus pandemic is changing local search across the globe.

Uberall looked at more than 650,000 business locations and Google My Business profiles in multiple countries — the US, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK — between mid-January and mid-March. The findings offer a snapshot of how the coronavirus is impacting consumer buying and local search as behavior evolves in response to the crisis.

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Local impressions only down 10%

Given the restriction of offline movement and decline of economic activity, it would be natural to assume that local search has dramatically fallen or even evaporated. However, Uberall’s data shows that local search impressions since early February have remained fairly stable — off only about 10%.

“Digital presence management for multi-location brands and single-location businesses has arguably become even more critical now,” said Greg Sterling, VP of Insights, Uberall. “As footfall has declined for most local retailers and other merchants, online visits and calls have grown. Out of necessity, consumers have further embraced the internet as a tool for information about the physical world around them.”

Website visits for the travel industry have cratered

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry in particular has seen a significant drop in business. Uberall’s research found that airline and airport website visits from local searches are down 47%, while hotel site visits are down 42%. With people being told to stay home, the majority of travel is being paused or canceled. In line with less air travel and fewer hotel bookings, tourism services are also down 26%.

“For obvious reasons, travel and hospitality are among the hardest hit segments,” said Sterling. “Consumer actions and engagement with travel properties are down across the board. This will continue until the pandemic subsides and other confidence-building measures, such as widespread testing, are in place.”

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Some businesses are booming 

While the travel industry is taking a substantial hit from COVID-19, other industries are actually seeing an increase. Uberall found that site visits for local grocery stores are up 118%, while site visits for businesses in the health/medical category are up 147%.

“Grocery and medical site traffic won’t be declining anytime soon,” said Sterling. “If anything, these numbers will continue to grow as the need for these businesses remains or increases.”

Directions for certain retailers are way down

Today, most people are only leaving their homes if it’s absolutely necessary. So it’s unsurprising that driving directions to local apparel retailers are down 58%. On the other hand, in March directions for health/medicine locations were way up. In fact, Uberall’s data found that they’ve seen a whopping 304% increase.

Food is driving the most phone calls

In the COVID-19 era, a significant percentage of local business phone calls revolve around food. Calls to restaurants with takeout have increased by 100%, while grocery stores have seen calls explode by 94%.

“In mid-March people switched from calling restaurants for reservations to ordering takeout or delivery,” said Sterling. “The uptick in calls to grocery stores is attributable to people seeking more information about delivery options, hours, or availability.”

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