Abacus Data Bulletin: Millions are changing their daily lives because of Coronavirus; Travel providers take a big hit

Abacus Data Bulletins are short analyses of public opinion data we collect. For more information or media interviews, contact Bruce Anderson or David Coletto.

Given the impact that the Coronavirus appears to be having around the world, we have started tracking how Canadians are reacting and thinking about their own behaviours.

Here’s what we have found thus far:

Many are avoiding places where large numbers of people congregate. About half of those who attend sports events, conventions, museums and concerts say they have or will probably limit their attendance.

Airlines face major headwinds. 16% say they are limiting or avoiding air travel, and another 21% say they probably will. This amounts to about 10 million Canadian adults. Among business travellers 26% say they have already reduced their travel, and as many more say they probably will. The potential impact on the vacation market is of a similar size.

For cruise ships, the data are particularly challenging. Among those for whom cruise travel is part of their behaviour normally, almost 2 out of 3 customers (62%) are or will avoid cruises.

Among those who use trains and buses, more than 4 out of 10 customers indicate their usage has or will change.

In terms of the foodservice and hospitality sector, among those who use restaurants, 15% say they have reduced their use of restaurants and another 23% say they probably will.

Shopping malls have likely already experienced softer traffic with 13% of shopping mall users saying they are reducing visits. Another 25% say they probably will.


According to Bruce Anderson: ”Non-stop comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus, likely coupled with unprecedented sharing of information over social media, has led millions to make adjustments in their daily lives.  Depending on what they continue to hear about the spread of the virus and whether the risk is rising or receding, the impact could roughly double in size fairly quickly.  Travel providers are likely to feel the most profound impacts, as people look to limit non-essential voyages.  While airline seat demand is clearly under pressure, the cruise ship sector has a potentially even more severe, long term positioning challenge.  The convention, sports, retail and hospitality sectors are likely already feeling pain and can anticipate more if the news of the virus continues to make people more anxious.”

Over the coming days, we will share more detail on how behaviour is changing, including breakdowns by different age groups and a look at how big-city dwellers compare to those who live in smaller towns and rural areas, where population density is different. Our intent is also to track these behavioural indicators over time in the weeks ahead.”


Our survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadians aged 18 and over from March 3 to 6, 2020. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


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