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Hotels, motels, and restaurants have seen a significant decrease in visits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while grocery stores, gas stations and home improvement outlets have fared better, according to newly released data from the Maricopa Association of Governments.
September 3, 2020

Oh, the Places You Go!

New data tell story of where people are traveling during pandemic

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kelly Taft, MAG, 602-452-5020

PHOENIX (Sept. 3, 2020) – Hotels, motels, and restaurants have seen a significant decrease in visits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while grocery stores, gas stations and home improvement outlets have fared better, according to newly released data from the Maricopa Association of Governments.

Anonymous data collected from 200,000 cell phone users on a weekly basis paint a picture of where residents in the Maricopa region have been traveling—or not traveling—during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), working with SafeGraph data, has created a new online tool that tracks visits to about 70,000 Maricopa County businesses. The dashboard shows the relative change in visits both statewide and regionally using two metrics: when compared to the same time last year and when compared to the first week of March this year. (Select the desired metric in the drop down box in the middle of the page. Hover over the lines in each graph to see more detailed information by week.)

“Visualizing these trends shows what sectors of the economy were impacted by the pandemic and to what extent, as well as how various interventions may have changed the trends,” said MAG Regional Analytics Director Anubhav Bagley. “This information can be used by decision makers to determine the impact on the economy and identify benchmarks to plan reopening efforts.”

For example, the average overall business activity (visits to locations) since the pandemic began in March is only 65 percent of the activity seen during same time last year. During late March and early April, activity fell to only 43 percent of activity in the region compared to last year. This “trough” represents the period when a full stay at home order was in effect. Even when stay-at-home orders expired May 15, activity only increased to approximately 80 percent of what it was a year ago.

Not surprisingly, the tourist accommodation sector (hotels/motels) was one of the hardest hit, experiencing visits that are only 53 percent of what they were in 2019. During the week of April 6, they lost three-quarters of their normal visits. Bars/restaurants also dropped that week to 40.6 percent of visits compared to last year. Below is a graphic of where various sectors stood the week of August 24, 2020:

For more information or analysis, please contact Kelly Taft at 602-452-5020.

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About MAG

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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Title VI requires that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity for which MAG receives federal financial assistance.

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