Canadians are more likely to shop or eat at a restaurant than attend a live concert, sporting event or movie theatre this year as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, according to a new Ipsos poll released Sunday.
Around six in 10 survey respondents said they might opt for shopping at a mall or sitting down for a meal at a restaurant if it’s allowed, for instance, while only 18 per cent indicated they were likely to go to a live sporting event.
“The results of the poll tell us that Canadians will continue to be cautious in their approach to going out, even if government does begin to lift some of the restrictions,” said Ipsos vice-president Sean Simpson.
“It looks like large gatherings, large events are going to be completely off the table for most Canadians even if they’re allowed.”
Conducted exclusively for Global News between May 8 and 11 among 1,000 Canadian adults, the poll found that while less than one in five were likely to attend a sports game, at least 60 per cent of those surveyed indicated they were either very or somewhat likely to eat at a sit-down restaurant in 2020 — if that’s allowed.
Close to two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said they were likely to go shopping at a mall once permitted. Households with children seem more likely to do so — 69 per cent said they were likely to shop as opposed to 61 per cent of households without kids.
The gap between those indicating their likelihood of going to a mall rather than a sports game or concert or play is probably due to the different levels of perceived risk involved, Simpson said.
“I think we can understand that there are different scales involved here,” he said.
“When you go to a restaurant, I think people are largely confident that they can take proper precautions, space tables out, limit the number of people in the restaurant, etc. And so a majority of Canadians say they’re likely to eat in a restaurant again at some point in 2020.”
The likelihood of entering a mall was split between age groups as well, with 57 per cent of those aged 55 years and older indicating they were likely to go to a mall.
In contrast, a higher percentage of younger people — 68 per cent of those aged 18 to 34, to be specific — said they were likely to shop at a mall.
“That looks to be the activity for older people, that the most at 57 per cent are willing to engage in, even ahead of sitting down in a restaurant at 52 per cent,” Simpson said.
“Whereas younger people are just as likely to do both of those things. Older people seem a little more comfortable going to a mall than eating at a restaurant.”
One in 10 respondents (12 per cent) said they are not at all likely to go to a shopping mall. Income appears to be a factor here as well.
Those who make less than $40,000 a year indicated they were not at all likely to be in a mall, compared to just nine per cent of those making between $60,000 and $100,000 and only seven per cent of those making more than $100,000.
Simpson chalks this up to Canadians viewing COVID-19 as more a financial concern as opposed to a health concern. More people have been financially impacted than affected healthwise by the disease, he said.
“And so who is most impacted by financial concerns? It’s people that make less income,” Simpson said.
“Even if things are able to reopen, and we’re able to eat at restaurants, we’re able to shop in malls, we’re able to go in movie theatres, those with household incomes of under $40,000 are the least likely to engage in any of these activities, and I think that’s just a function of not having the money, the capacity, to be able to do these things.”
Six in 10 Canadians said they’re likely to visit a restaurant once restrictions are eased, with younger respondents indicating they are more likely (68 per cent) than those aged 55 years or older (52 per cent).
Families with kids in the house also indicated they were more likely to go to a restaurant (68 per cent) versus those without any kids (57 per cent).
The difference in the likelihood of taking part in certain activities is divided between people with kids and those without kids throughout the survey, Simpson said.
“Those with kids are more likely to say that they will engage in these entertainment activities at some point in 2020,” he said.
He offers up two reasons why this might be the case. One is that families with kids are generally younger than those without — empty nesters are older, for instance. Younger people might feel more confident in their health, he said.
“The other aspect is that those with kids are, I think, looking for any form of entertainment, that they haven’t exhausted over the past eight weeks already,” he said. Going to a mall or a restaurant gives them something to do after months of being isolated with children.
But other activities weren’t received as well in the poll. Only 36 per cent of respondents said they’re likely to go out for a movie if permitted in 2020, with families with children indicating they’re more likely to do this (52 per cent) than those with no kids (32 per cent).
Live concerts and sporting events are met with a similar level of caution. Only 22 per cent indicated they were likely to go to a concert or play this year — families with kids once again were more willing to attend (28 per cent) than those without kids (20 per cent).
“Live concerts, sporting events, when you’re packing thousands and thousands of people into a confined space, it’s just very difficult to understand how, even with proper precautions, those things can continue,” Simpson said.
Ontario’s Stratford Festival, for instance, has “read the writing on the wall” and put the entire 2020 season on hold because of the virus. The festival, with its well-known productions of Shakespeare plays, began in 1953
The likelihood is varied across provinces, with 47 per cent of Ontario residents and 48 per cent of Manitoba residents indicating hesitation compared to 29 per cent of those living in Alberta.
“There just seems to be a little bit more comfort in the west, largely, I think, because those areas have been not quite as hard hit as our most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec,” Simpson said.
“Just as the pandemic hasn’t been quite as overwhelming there, I think we’ll see an earlier return to the new normal more quickly.”
Provinces, territories and cities in Canada are reopening and emerging from their coronavirus lockdowns at differing speeds.
For instance, in Alberta, retail stores, hair salons, museums, daycares and day camps were given permission to open May 14, with restrictions. Unlike in Quebec and Ontario, restaurants and cafés are allowed to reopen at half capacity.
Summer camps, as well as major events and festivals in Toronto, remain cancelled until the end of August.
While schools in Montreal remain closed, schools in other parts of Quebec have been allowed to reopen, with the decision left to parents whether or not they want to send their kids back to classrooms.
Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick have allowed household bubbles, where one household can interact with one other household.
After a month of no new cases of COVID-19, two of Canada’s three territories have begun reopening.
As of Saturday evening, there have been nearly 76,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,600 deaths.
— With files by Global News reporters Rachael D’Amore, Nick Westoll, Sean Boynton, Kevin Nielsen