Case Study

Impact of the first wave of COVID-19 - restrictions on Prague Shopping Malls (May 2020)

VIVIDI is helping a Prague-based shopping mall understand their visitors’ behavior, providing them with demographic information on customers, monitoring peak hours and helping them optimize the space in each area. VIVIDI was collecting data also during the COVID-19 pandemic. What was the impact of governmental regulations and their subsequent easing? We are happy to let you take a peek at the results.

It is important to mention that this particular shopping mall is not organized in a typical way. It is located in Prague’s suburbs and connected to a public underground transport junction as well as a bus station. It is not too extensive, and the neighborhood residents often use the shopping mall as a shortcut to get to the public transport. The second significant characteristic is the residential area which is attached to the building of the shopping area. The residents of the building therefore also use the halls of the shopping mall to get to the transport or to simply go outside and come back. The shopping mall contains a supermarket, small boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, a drug store and a pharmacy.

Custom-made solution

VIVIDI is an innovative solution for analyzing excessive amounts of variables. The solution is custom-made and accounts for customer interests and needs. This shopping mall focuses on the customers’ demographic data, such as age and gender, and tracks the number of people streaming through its halls. To get the most accurate data and cover the key locations in the mall, the system uses seven VIVIDI devices placed in different areas. The data are merged in the analytic process, or can be used separately to understand the particular events and actions in various places.

Vividi helps you with

Customer behavior analysis
Emotion analysis
In-store analysis
Real-time people counting
Impression and gaze time
Queue analysis
Security and privacy of data

COVID-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic

In the past months, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the whole world. The Czech Republic underwent a coronavirus lockdown, social distancing, and numerous governmental restrictions. The first positive cases started on 1 March and other confirmed cases followed without delay. The government proceeded to implement various regulations, first declaring an emergency and then, after the critical period had passed, starting to gradually ease the restrictions.

Sneak a peek

We used the data of the shopping mall from this period to observe how the pandemic impacted the visitors’ behavior. The graph describes the occupancy in the mall for just over a two-month period, starting from 9 March until 17 May. The easily noticeable regular drops in the graph correspond to weekends. Some of the boutiques are closed on Sunday and the traffic is not so high in the public transport either.

Graph representing the number of daily visitors

On 10 March, the governmental directive closing all schools came into force, two days after the state of emergency was declared. The data captured by VIVIDI does not show any clear impact, as the number of people in the mall remainder at approximately the normal level. A substantial footfall decline (roughly 50%) happened on 14 March when shopping malls and other shops were compulsorily closed. The specific structure of the shopping mall and the particular stores in the mall ensured the drop was not to zero visitors per day. Other shopping centers were closed since that date and had no traffic at all. In this particular mall, the traffic was created by a few stores which remained open, such as the supermarket and pharmacy. The rest of the traffic can be ascribed to the residents, as people shortcutting their way to public transport creates a low volume of traffic. The other irregular drops were caused primarily by state holidays (Easter on 13-16 April, 1 May, and 8 May), marked by red arrows in the graph.

Back to normal

After the biggest drop, the number of people did not remain the same. We can observe the trend of slow growth of the number of visitors since the beginning of April.

Increase of the number of visitors compared to the same time in the previous week and the curve reflecting the long-term trend

We cannot see any distinct divergence right after the releases. For instance on 2 April (reopening of shops offering face masks, respirators, hand sanitizers, etc.), 9 April (reopening of hobby markets and bike stores), 20 April (reopening craft stores), 27 April (reopening stores of less than 2500 m2) and 11 May (reopening of all the stores). It means that the easing of governmental regulations did not have an immediate and direct effect on the people returning back to normal life. We can only speculate whether it was caused by the decrease in fear of the coronavirus, which has been fading gradually rather than leaping with each release of regulations, or whether it was due to the reaction to the government’s easing of regulations being spread out in time. Regardless of these possibilities, occupancy is slowly getting back to normal and we expect to be at the same occupancy as before the pandemic in late July.

Male or female?

From the data, we can also observe another interesting consequence of the lock-down. When we compare only the data from the camera pointed towards the supermarket, we discover that this particular supermarket is generally slightly more visited by men than by women as, ordinarily, approximately 56% of customers are male. In consequence of the pandemic during the middle of March when the lockdown was implemented, the ratio started to drift. Since mid-March until mid-May, 39% of customers were male.

Ratio male / female customers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Special opening hours for the elderly

In the Czech Republic, the government agreed on implementing special shopping hours for senior citizens to lower the possibility of contagion of COVID-19. Every day, all supermarkets had to reserve two fixed hours established by the government for shopping only for people older than 65 years. Data from the particular supermarket shows only little impact of elder people making use of the reserved hours. The data also confirms the ignorance on the part of younger people who did not respect the reserved shopping hours. Furthermore, it took about one week for the people to get used to the times. The government changing the designated hours three times also played an important part in the long time it took to adapt to this new measure.