Searching for Deliveries
Google’s index showed British delivery searches increasing.
A BBC article stated:
Online searches for cream teas and afternoon teas to be delivered have surged since the UK went into lockdown, search data has suggested.
That claim refers to Google searches. This article looks at indices.
What is an index?
An index is a measure of relative change. A value is set, and then we observe changes over time or other differences. If an index is 100 at one point, then we see the value of 107: that means the value has increased by 7%.
The Google Trends tool allows people to access an index of search activity on Google. In Google Trends, the highest volume for search terms is set at 100.
Google provide a rounded figure for their trend index. That means if a daily index was 20, it was around 20% of the highest volume. A value of 20 may represent between 19.6% and 20.4%.
In particular, if the indexed value was 0: that does not mean no-one searched for that term. The search volume was less than 0.5% of the highest volume in the study period.
Google provides an imperfect sample of their massive search database. That sample excludes very limited searches and duplicate searches in short periods. In addition, it also excludes queries with special characters.
The BBC article looks at relative changes in UK Google searches.
In Google, ‘Cream tea delivery’ searches grew by around 750%. By contrast, UK Google searches for ‘McDonald’s delivery’ grew by about 250%.
We can compare those two search terms against one another. Here, 100 means the highest daily volume of both terms.
As expected, there are fewer searches for cream tea deliveries than for McDonald’s.
Searches for McDonald’s deliveries reduced after the announced lock-down. Google searches for cream tea deliveries have increased since the lock-down started.
There are two surges in searches for McDonald’s deliveries. Both surges correspond with events relating to the company:
- 13th May: some of their restaurants reopen for take-away on that day.
- 3rd June: more restaurants reopen for drive-through services.
Living with my own trends
There was a notable spike in UK Google searches for ‘cream tea delivery’ on 25th May.
This is the day that the BBC published their article. The article may have induced far more searches that it was reporting on.