We continue to track traffic congestion around the world as a real-time measure of COVID-19’s impact on the global economy. This weekend’s data shows how the virus is affecting consumer demand, in comparison to weekday volumes that highlight commutation patterns. Today we will review the data from 9 major cities around the world, all touched by the virus but at various stages of reaction to the health threat.
First, here is the 7-day data for Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen (recent week in red, 1-year averages in light blue):
Takeaway: while weekday traffic is getting back to normal, weekend congestion is essentially zero in Beijing and Shanghai although somewhat better in Shenzhen. China is clearly getting back to work but leisure travel/shopping is still not yet reaccelerating.
Now, here are Milan, Rome and Paris:
Takeaway: the northern Italian quarantine is not affecting Milan’s traffic as much as China’s weekend data shows, but Roman congestion shows a marked slowing of economic activity starting Thursday and Paris was well below trend this weekend.
Finally, here are Seattle, San Francisco and New York:
Takeaway: all 3 US cities affected by COVID-19 show markedly lower weekend traffic than average, and the generally subpar congestion during the middle/later part of the workweek tells us this is not due to the sorts of seasonal patterns we mentioned in our “Markets” section.
The upshot from all this: as capital markets have already started to discount, the global consumer is quickly retrenching, led by individuals who live in a city where COVID-19 has taken hold.