New research from online brand management company Yext offers insight into how people’s use of online search has changed around the world since the COVID-19 pandemic took off.

Its COVID-19 Global Search and Engagement Report, based on search information from 100 different companies including Google and Safari, shows just how wide-ranging and dramatic the effects of the pandemic have been on many sectors.

The UK saw the biggest average increase of all countries examined during the period, with 385% growth in online grocery searches in March. This was mainly due to the huge spike in online grocery orders, which peaked at 445% above normal during the busiest day in mid-March.

On the other side of the coin, searches for restaurants in the UK, and similarly in France, collapsed to just 5% of normal levels during the same month as restaurants in both countries put up shutters during the lockdown.

Searches for luxury products, unsurprisingly, have been put on hold by most consumers, who are choosing to focus on life’s essentials – at least for now. In Germany, search volume for luxury plummeted 95% below normal levels in March. And it wasn’t just searches: all consumer online actions around luxury, including clicks to call, clicks for directions, and clicks to websites, were down 95%.

In Italy, mailing services were in high demand as people used them to send packages to friends and loved ones. Local search volume to mailing services peaked at 114% above normal levels towards the end of March, and clicks to call these businesses reached 198% above the normal average.

In Japan, grocery store searches rocketed following the virus outbreak, peaking at 307% above normal at the end of February.

And in North America, telemedicine took off. As phone and online consultations were recommended, rather than in-person consultations with doctors, searches for directions to hospitals dropped 70%, and clicks to call emergency rooms went up 57%.

Also in the region, mirroring the trend elsewhere, consumers’ online activity around travel and hospitality has fallen off significantly. Searches for hotels were down 54% in March, while clicks for directions were 95% below normal.

Sourced from Yext