Masked And On The Move! Mobility Back At Pre-Pandemic Levels
In yet another sign of returning normalcy, mobility across India has moved above pre-pandemic level for the first time in September.
Mobility across places of retail, recreation, grocery, pharmacy, parks, transit stations, places of work and residence turned positive in the second half of September and has continued to rise since, according to data from Google's Covid-19 community mobility reports.
Google shares mobility trends on a daily basis and changes for each day are compared to a baseline value for that day of the week from Jan. 3–Feb. 6, 2020.
A seven-day moving average was used to smoothen out mobility trends and account for day-to-day volatility.
We know that personal mobility has been on a mend, said Yuvika Singhal, economist at QuantEco Research. Data validates this with Google mobility having moved into positive territory compared to the baseline in the month of September 2021, for the first time in the post pandemic phase, she said.
Globally, and in developing economies like India, economic activity and mobility shared a strong correlation during the first wave. From there on, as people got accustomed to the pandemic, the correlation has weakened but continues to exist.
Saugata Bhattacharya, chief economist at Axis Bank, also said mobility is gradually improving across major states with lesser time being spent at home. Mobility across recreation and groceries also shows improvement across major states, he said in a research note on Oct. 4, 2021.
The RBI in its last bulletin for September 2021, said that, "with confidence resurging, mobility rose to its highest levels since the onset of the pandemic". Since the bulletin was released, mobility has continued to rise, led by supermarkets, farmer markets and pharmacies.
Mobility across the supermarkets and pharmacies category is 32.1% above the pre-pandemic baseline on a seven-day moving average basis as of Oct. 1.
The seven-day moving average for mobility to workplaces has also climbed and is now only 6% below the baseline.
The seven-day moving average for mobility to places of retail and recreation is 12.4% below the baseline on a seven-day moving average basis. As of Oct. 1, 2021, it was only 6% below pre-pandemic levels.
For transit stations, the seven-day moving average for mobility was at the baseline as of Oct. 1, 2021.
Attaining yet another milepost in late September 2021, mobility for the category of "transit stations" hit the baseline of 0, Singhal said. This underscores a normalisation in the movement of people beyond the comfort of local neighbourhood to across cities and perhaps states.
Individuals are eager to spend time outside and travel again.Yuvika Singhal, Economist, QuantEco Research
As such, the services sector also appears to be on a stronger footing and could lead to improved activity during the festive season.