Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Montgomery County residents in parks, grocery stores more than before the pandemic, data shows

Residents still not going back to the
office, transit, or general shopping 
in great numbers

Montgomery County residents are shopping inside grocery and drug stores in larger numbers than they were before the pandemic, the latest Google Mobility data show. They're making even greater use of parks than before Covid-19 officially arrived last spring. Other travel hasn't bounced back as strongly, such as going into the office, or commuting there by transit. And in-person retail shopping for items other than groceries and medicine remains sluggish, in relative comparison.

Using a baseline of mobility data Google collected from Montgomery County residents' devices between January 3 and February 6, 2020, behavioral changes are evident. The latest Google data covers the period between Monday, July 19, 2021, and Monday, August 30, 2021.

Hillwood Manor Park in Takoma Park

Over the last half of this summer, County residents were using parks 28% more than they were at the start of 2020. One caveat to that: the new data covers a warm, summer period, while the baseline was taken during the height of winter.

Safeway in Damascus

A more apples-to-apples comparison is in grocery and pharmacy shopping; the latter surges during winter months. But during late summer 2021, County residents were going into grocery stores and drugstores 7% more than they were during the height of cold and flu season in early 2020. There has been an increasing strain on grocery supply lines again in recent weeks, as evidenced by Costco reinstating limits on the number of some items that may be purchased, such as paper towels and toilet paper. Business Insider reports that shortages are the result of panic buying over the Delta variant, and of labor shortages affecting the ability to produce, ship and restock merchandise.

CVS Pharmacy

Residents aren't shopping in other types of retail stores, or traveling for non-park recreational activities as much, though. "Retail and recreation" travel was down 12% in late summer this year, compared to early 2020. One would expect recreation to be higher in summer than in midwinter, so that is a notable decline.

Metro Red Line train in Rockville

Travel to workplaces looks better than it was during the lockdowns and peaks of the pandemic, but still follows the national trend of those working from home continuing to do so where possible. Workplace travel was 44% lower in late summer 2021 in Montgomery County than it was in January-February 2020. Those traveling for any reason are often still wary of using public transit. Bus and rail commuting was down 42% in recent weeks, compared to early 2020.

One thing many residents are doing is continuing to stay home. Despite warm weather, County residents stayed at home 11% more over the last six weeks than they did in frigid January-February 2020.

No comments:

Post a Comment