Nearly three quarters of Australians are convinced a recession is headed their way, according to a new survey by market research group Ekas, a greater proportion than those concerned by the spread of the coronavirus. 

While 73.1% were worried about imminent recession, just over two thirds (68.7%) expressed concern about the spread of the virus in Australia, indicating they were either very concerned (21.8%) or quite concerned (46.9%).

The tourism sector is already reeling from border closures and people’s reluctance to travel. Out of those surveyed who had some form of travel planned in the near future, many have either postponed (27.9%) or cancelled (14.6%) domestic or overseas trips. Another 25.2% of respondents said they had been planning a trip overseas or interstate but had abandoned the idea.

The risk of contracting the coronavirus via community infection is also affecting how Australians greet one another. Of those surveyed, 83.7% said they were now greeting people with no contact and only verbally. There are 6.1% who are still comfortable with a hug by way of welcome and just 2.7% who are willing to risk a handshake.

Recent weeks have also seen some dramatic behaviour in the wider community, with people panic buying supplies and hoarding non-perishable goods. Out of those surveyed, 19.9% confessed they were stockpiling, with this behaviour largely the preserve of those aged 35 to 44 (28.4%) who were in a couple and/or have children at home.

According to those polled, the highest motivator for bulk buying appears to be preparation for a two week or longer isolation period (70.2%), followed by a fear of stores running out of staple products (56.5%).

When asked about the spike in the purchase of toilet paper rolls, the majority of respondents (66.8%) said this represented the definition of hysteria. Another 19.8% described it as slightly illogical, 11% said it was a little over the top, but logical, while 2.9% of respondents considered it the only logical thing to do in the circumstances.

In terms of gathering in communal spaces, even before the weekend saw mass crowds of over 500 people advised against by the government, respondents to the poll had already largely decided to avoid such spaces. Large festivals (68.5%) are considered no go zones by more than two thirds of people, while ticketed events like concerts were off limits for 61.4% of respondents.

And in a particularly worrying sign for the economy in the short-to-medium term, venues with smaller numbers of people look certain to be shunned by ordinary Australians. Movie theatres (58.9%), shopping malls (49.5%), restaurants and eateries (45.6%), children’s play centres (37.1%) and fast food outlets (32.9%) are all places a notable number of Aussies plan to avoid in the near future.

The research was conducted on March 12 - 16 with 1,174 Australians polled throughout the country, to compile their opinions on the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Sourced from Ekas