How did Japan cope with COVID-19? Big Data and purchasing behavior

Author Name KONISHI Yoko (Senior Fellow, RIETI) / SAITO Takashi (Consulting Fellow, RIETI) / ISHIKAWA Toshiki (Consulting Fellow, RIETI) / IGEI Naoya (Intage Research Inc.)
Creation Date/NO. September 2020 20-J-037
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Japan has been recognized for having successfully controlled the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This study aims to gather insights to combat the spread of infection in our daily lives by observing our purchasing behavior. We use point of sales data from supermarkets, convenience stores, home centers, drug stores, and electronics retail stores for a nationwide analysis. Our analysis revealed the following. First, the Japanese actively prevented the spread of infection by voluntarily wearing masks, using alcohol-based disinfectants, and gargling. Second, people willingly stayed home during the semi-lockdown. Third, infection prevention essentials continued to be purchased during periods of both low and high levels of infection. We conclude that continuing to prevent the pandemic with masks, hand washing and sanitizing, and gargling, along with spending more time at home and maintaining safe distancing, will be effective in reducing the spread of the virus. Finally, the infections and deaths were primarily concentrated in the metropolitan area and Kansai region, where the nature of the spread of the infection was different compared to that in small and middle-sized prefectures.

Published: Konishi, Yoko, Takashi Saito, Toshiki Ishikawa, Hajime Kanai, and Naoya Igei, 2021. "How did Japan cope with COVID-19? Big data and purchasing behavior," Asian Economic Papers, Vol. 20(1), 146-167.