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March 27, 2020

COVID-19’s Economic Impact #1

We are pausing our weekly alt-data roundup to bring you real-time data on the economic impact of COVID-19. We hope that it is not long before we’re back to curating alt-data articles, but for the time being we feel compelled to share what our day-to-day data science is revealing.

Abraham Thomas
Chief Data Officer, Quandl

1 — Commercial Air Travel

Our global flight intent dataset suggests that the brief uptick seen in mid March may have been a false dawn. Booking-related activity has now fallen back to the low levels of February.

2 — Auto Sales

After a reasonable, if somewhat soft, start to the month, US new car sales declined sharply in the middle of March, as tracked by our dataset of daily auto sales inferred from auto insurance policy sales.

3 — Online Shopping

Product-level transaction records from 250 online stores (not including Amazon) suggest that overall e-commerce activity trended lower in the first 8 weeks of the year, before increasing slightly in early March. The increase was driven by large year-over-year gains in categories such as Pet Supplies and Health & Beauty, countering declines in categories such as Electronics and Apparel.

4 — Private Jet Flights

Using a combination of flight tracking, tail numbers and airplane ownership records, we detect a sudden sharp drop in private jet traffic in the United States, beginning 7 March and intensifying after 14 March. Flight volume declined later than most other indicators, but more rapidly.  

5 — Small Business Revenue

Transaction data captured by small-business software provider Womply shows a broad-based contraction in revenue. Travel- and hospitality-related categories such as transportation, lodging, parking, restaurants and bars are amongst the hardest hit. Discretionary categories such as entertainment, sports and recreation also contracted. Meanwhile, "essential" categories such as pet services and especially food and beverage retail show large year-over-year gains.

6 — Hourly Workers and Wages

Time-tracking data captured by Homebase, a software tool used by 100,000+ local businesses in the US, reveals significant declines in hours worked and monthly income since January. 45% of local businesses have closed, while hourly employee numbers have gone down by 55%, resulting in over $1,200 in average monthly wages lost per employee.

* All year-over-year comparisons are versus the same day of the corresponding week for 2019. Certain daily datasets have been intentionally lagged for contractual reasons.  If you would like access to the latest data, please contact us.

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