While the COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis, there is no denying the widespread economic impact that it’s having globally. The almost immediate economic impact has left many consumers—and businesses—facing unexpected challenges, all of which will shape the way they spend and save in the months ahead.
With questions and concerns rising, Australians are spending significantly more time online engaging with business news and information content as well as personal finance information, as they carefully monitor the situation, keep informed about the ever-changing circumstances, government response and manage their own finances.
Engagement with financial news and information first spiked the middle of March 2020, and the increase was driven by news around panic buying and the response of the major supermarket chains in deterring it through strategies such as buying limits and assigned trading hours for seniors. Since these initial spikes, news developments, such as falling oil prices, erratic share prices, Job Keeper and other government stimulus announcements, longevity of heavily affected businesses and debates about resumption of travel, retail and hospitality, have dominated the news.
Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data reveals that since the federal government first announced stage 1 restrictions on March 23, 2020, Australians spent almost 500,000 hours per week reading financial news and information content online, a 43%1 increase when compared with the same period in 2019 and a 36%2 increase compared with the 12 weeks leading up to the announcement.
Gen Z and Millennials have recorded the highest total time spent on consuming financial news and information across business and personal finance since stage 1 restrictions were first announced. These age groups are most worried about their future, as 13.6% of Australian 15-24 years-olds are unemployed (Australian Bureau of Statistics), and/or they are not eligible to receive government’s subsidies. According to Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data, Australians aged 18-24 are spending 59%2 more time engaging with finance content, and Australians aged 25-34 have seen a 47%2 increase during the same period.
The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the new homebody economy has had a profound impact on some of the country’s most iconic and blue chip companies, changing the way that they do business, decreased as well as increased demand, and for many a temporary closure of operations. The effect on these companies is not only felt by their employees, but also on the superannuation and personal investment portfolios of millions of Australians. Australians have increased the time spent specifically on business news content by 38%2
In March 2020, the ASX200 recorded its lowest value in over four years; however, throughout the April to June quarter, the ASX200 started to recover and there has been a substantial rise in price and traded volume.
This sentiment is also echoed in the amount of time spent by Australians aged 18+ engaging with online trading content and tools. Whether they are carefully monitoring their existing portfolio, getting a grasp of the market, looking for investment opportunities or snapping up bargain stocks, Australians spent 69%3 more time engaging with online trading content for the Q2 period when compared with the same period in 2019.
The recent drops in share prices have heavily impacted Australian pre-retirees and their future comfort is implicit with the state of the stock market. The decisions that Australians aged 55-64 make today can largely determine the frugality of their retirement. This is evident in the amount of time those aged 55-64 spent engaging with online trading content and tools and during the April-June 2020 quarter. Whether they are carefully managing their portfolios, monitoring the situation or using the opportunity to buy bargain priced stocks, people aged 55-64 spent 84% more time engaged with online trading content and tools during this period.
As the economic and financial impact of COVID-19 evolves, its effects will continue to be felt in different ways by different Australians but in particular by the younger generations.
Yet even though younger consumers will be most affected financially, Aussies of all ages will continue to rely on business and financial news, personal finance and investment content online: younger generations will be more likely to look to educate themselves, while older generations will be more focused on managing their finances and planning for the future.
- Source: Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, Weekly, WC 23/03/20 – WC 27/07/20 vs. WC 25/03/19 – WC 29/07/19, Finance News & Information Sub-Category, People 2+, Digital (C/M), Total Time Spent, Text
- Source: Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, Weekly, WC 23/03/20 – WC 27/07/20 vs. WC 30/12/20 – WC 16/03/20, Finance News & Information Sub-Category, People 2+, Digital (C/M), Total Time Spent, Text.
- Source: Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, Weekly WC 23/03/20 -26/07/20 vs. WC 30/12/19 – 22/03/20, Finance News & Information Sub-Category Business and Finance Sites, People 2+, Digital (C/M), Total Time Spent, Text.
- Source: Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, Monthly Total, April – June 2019 and April – June 2020, P18+, Digital C/M, Text, Online Trading Subcategory includes all entities measured in all periods, Total Time Spent.