April 02, 2020

Self-isolation measures lead to plunge in movement of people in Melbourne and at places of interest

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 8361
RMR Logo

A special analysis of movement data in Australia’s leading cities, and at selected places of interest throughout Melbourne and Sydney (see Sydney data here), reveals a sharp drop-off in movement in the central business districts of both cities and key places of interest in the last two weeks of March.

The first Australian death from COVID-19 coronavirus was reported on March 1 and from that point the trend for movement data in the Melbourne CBD has changed and rapidly declined since mid-March. The spikes in movement have been earlier in the week and dropped off over the course of the week as retail stores have closed and office workers begin working from home.

Roy Morgan has partnered with leading technological innovator UberMedia to aggregate data from tens of thousands of mobile devices to assess the impact of new Government regulations on social distancing designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus throughout Australia.

The aggregate data compiled allows governments and health agencies to assess what types of Australians are still visiting Australia’s cities and places of interest via integration of the movement data with the in-depth psychographic profiling capabilities of Roy Morgan Helix Personas (www.helixpersonas.com.au).

Daily Analysis of Movement Data for Melbourne CBD in 2020

Source: Roy Morgan collaboration with UberMedia who provide anonymous aggregated insights using mobile location data. Note: Movement data for Melbourne CBD excludes residents of the Melbourne CBD. 

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, says in a time of self-isolation and social distancing it is vital the movement patterns around Australia’s cities, shopping centres, transport hubs and other places of interest are understood at a granular level:

Block Quote

“Roy Morgan’s partnership with UberMedia provides aggregated data on the types of people who are frequenting Australia’s cities and additional places of interest even when new government regulations have mandated travel can only be undertaken for four specific purposes: work, education, shopping for essentials, exercising and medical appointments.

“These regulations are designed to slowdown the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and prevent the pandemic from careening out of control amongst the Australia populace. Early signs are encouraging that the spread of the virus in Australia has slowed down as further measures have been introduced over the last few weeks since mid-March.

“The aggregated data shows a peak in movement in Melbourne’s CBD in late February followed by gentle declines over the following two weeks and much steeper declines since mid-March as social distancing and self-isolation directives have been issued by governments.

“These declines in movement have been observed not only in Melbourne’s CBD but also in key meeting points such as the Arts Centre and Southbank, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, the Botanic Gardens and also at large suburban shopping centres such as Chadstone, Highpoint and Southland.

“Taking the example of the Melbourne CBD shows that different types of people are changing their movement patterns at different rates. Normal movement patterns suggest around a quarter of those in the CBD are part of the well-off 100 Leading Lifestyles community and about a third are the younger, trendy and career-focused 200 Metrotechs.

“The latest figures from the end of March show 200 Metrotechs now comprise nearly 40% of the people movement in Melbourne CBD (up 3% points) while 100 Leading Lifestyles have declined by 3% points to just over 20% of those now in the Melbourne CBD.

“Although the movement of all Helix Communities has declined over the last two weeks the younger 200 Metrotechs are now more likely to still be coming into the city than the older 100 Leading Lifestyles for which ‘Working From Home’ (#WFH) has become a new mantra in this age of self-isolation and social distancing.”

Impact of COVID-19 coronavirus builds through March

The first Australian death from COVID-19 coronavirus was reported on March 1 and from that point the trend for movement data in the Melbourne CBD has changed and rapidly declined since mid-March. The spikes in movement have been earlier in the week and dropped off over the course of the week as retail stores have closed and office workers begin working from home.

Analysis of the daily movement data for the Melbourne CBD throughout 2020 shows the usual weekly pattern before the emergence of COVID-19 has been a build towards a weekly spike on a Friday as people increasingly visit the city not only for work during the day, but also to socialise and catch up with friends on a Friday evening.

The movement data on weekends, and public holidays such as Australia Day (Monday January 27) and Labor Day (Monday March 9), drops off significantly without office workers and with many retailers closed.

Analysing this movement data via Helix Communities reveals sharp drop-offs in movement data for 100 Leading Lifestyles300 Aspirationals,  400 Heath and Home and 600 Fair Go compared to average movement levels. The sharpest drop-off has been for 100 Leading Lifestyles.

  • 100 Leading Lifestyles: Focused on success and career and family, people in the Leading Lifestyles Community are proud of their prosperity and achievements. They are big spenders and enjoy cultured living to the max.

Other Helix Communities have also declined, but in a relative sense they now make up a larger share than before. This is particularly clear for 200 Metrotechs.

Before March those in the 200 Metrotechs community comprised just over a third (34%) of all visitors to Melbourne CBD, however this has increased to 37% for the most recent data available. Metrotechs have now had a higher average share of movement within the Melbourne CBD every day for over two weeks since Sunday March 15 when restrictions began to be introduced.

  • 200 Metrotechs: Socially aware, successful, career focused and culturally diverse, Metrotechs are trend and tech focused. They are committed experience seekers, willing to spend big on the best of city life and thrive on being out and about in the world.

Although comprising only a small share of around 10% of visitors to the city on average the smaller decline in visitation for 500 Doing Fine means their share has risen slightly in recent weeks as the Government measures to restrict movement have ratcheted up.

Sharp declines in movement data for the Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens, Chadstone & elsewhere

Roy Morgan and UberMedia aren’t just measuring movement data in Melbourne’s central business district but also in key places of interest around the city and surrounds. The utility of the data allows precise targeting of locations throughout Australia to assess how movement data is changing as Australia’s are required to self-isolate to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

In Melbourne we have noticed sharp drop-offs in movement data for several key locations including the Airport, Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens, Chinatown, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, Museum and Exhibition Buildings, Southern Cross Station, Williamstown Beach Station and the Zoo.

There have also been rapid declines in movement data in the last week of March for several key shopping destinations including Chadstone, Highpoint, Southland, The Glen, Werribee Shopping Centre and Costco Docklands.


Michele Levine – direct: 03 9224 5215 | mobile: 0411 129 093 | Michele.Levine@roymorgan.com

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is Australia’s largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state, as well as in the U.S. and U.K. A full-service research organisation, Roy Morgan has over 75 years’ experience collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

About UberMedia

UberMedia provides the highest quality mobile data solutions to creatively solve businesses persistent challenges. The company’s products process billions of social, demographic, and location signals daily across retail, automotive, and entertainment to better understand modern consumers with the most accurate business decision science.

Roy Morgan Helix Personas

Learn more by visiting www.helixpersonas.com.au.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

Related Findings

Back to top
Back To Top Arrow