COVID-19 and Social Distancing by State

COVID-19 and Social Distancing by State

COVID-19 has now spread to all 50 states, with Washington, California, and New York particularly hard-hit by the virus. Gravy wondered what our Visitations data could tell us about COVID-19’s effect on U.S. consumer behavior in every state. Using location data from consumer mobile devices in aggregate, we analyzed visits to millions of commercial places of interest – including but not limited to shopping malls, supermarkets, stores, and restaurants – to see exactly how consumer foot traffic has changed to date.

For this analysis, we looked at over 2.9 billion consumer visits observed between February 1 and March 19, 2020 at commercial locations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. We started by graphing daily device visits to places of interest by state. For ease of comparison, we then indexed daily visitors in March to average, same day-of-week visitors during the month of February.

Understanding that fewer daily visitors to commercial places of interest signal greater social distancing, which states are rising to the challenge, and which are lagging behind?

Here’s what we found:

  • In general, residents of most states behaved as usual through March 13. In fact, between March 1 – March 13, average daily device visits at commercial places of interest in many states were slightly higher than in February.
Daily Device Visits by State
  • Starting March 14 foot traffic patterns began to shift – and drastically. By March 19, consumer visits to commercial places of interest were, on average, 38% lower.
Daily Device Visits in March
  • Importantly, almost every state in the U.S. was below average in terms of daily device visits beginning March 14. Idaho and Arkansas were the only two states to show above-average foot traffic to commercial places of interest on March 16.
  • Vermont residents may have started their social distancing earlier than residents of all other states.

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The Good Citizens

When it comes to social distancing, some states are clearly ahead of the curve:

Top 10 States in Social Distancing

Residents of West Coast states appear to be taking social distancing most seriously. Nevada took the top spot, with Vermont coming in at #2 and Hawaii at #3. As of our publication date, California and Washington – ranked #4 and #7, respectively – remain among the states most impacted by COVID-19. Residents of Vermont were even more likely to stay out of stores than usual. Among the top 10, California’s state government was the first to issue an official “stay at home” order on March 19, and all but two states have since issued similar orders.

Note: Washington, D.C. (not shown) is ranked #8.

Still Social – But At What Cost?

Consumers in other states, however, appear more likely to have continued their typical daily routines and less likely to have put social distancing into practice. These states include:

Bottom 10 States in Social Distancing

While it’s not necessarily surprising that social distancing is being practiced more routinely in some states than others, it appears that residents of states in the Midwest and Plains regions are less likely to have adjusted their daily routines. Among the bottom 10, only 3 of the state governments had issued “stay at home” orders to residents as of March 25, 2020.

How are citizens in your state responding to social distancing? See data for all states, below, as of March 19, 2020.

% Change in Visitors

How has your state responded to COVID-19 and how has your daily pattern of activity changed as a result? How could your business use location intelligence and the insights it provides to adjust your business and marketing strategies in response to COVID-19?

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