(QCOSTARICA) Seven out of ten in Costa Rica had to reduce or eliminate the consumption of foods that are not of basic necessity, as part of the measures to face the impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is revealed by a survey carried out by Unimer Centroamérica to measure the economic and emotional impact of the national emergency, three months after the detection of the first case of the new coronavirus in the country.
According to the study, the family diet has been one of the hardest hit by the crisis. Proof of this is that 41% of those interviewed decreased the portions of food served at home and 32% reduced meal times per day.
In addition, 58% admitted having changed their type of diet, 47% chose to develop a menu to anticipate the quantity and type of foods required, 39% decided to buy food to store and 29% buy directly from suppliers to try to get lower prices.
Faced with these data, Unimer concludes that the pandemic has changed the consumption habits in Costa Rica and that the reduction of expenses became an important way of containing or preventing the crisis.
In fact, 94% of those surveyed stated that in order to face the current situation they have had to reduce the budget not only for food, but also for recreation, payment of services and purchase of personal items.
Another of the measures applied is to use savings to keep the family fed and housed and indicated by 67% of those interviewed.
Among the other measures is withdraw their Labor Capitalization Fund (FCL), stop paying some debts, borrow from relatives, use credit cards and apply for bank loans.
The Unimer survey (digitally) took in the responses of 460 people, between April 17 and 21 last. The survey has a margin of error + -4.57%.
As for the greatest concerns at the moment, work stands out as the greatest. In fact, 73% of those interviewed admit to being tense because of their job stability and that of their family.
Anxiety and depression
The data collected by the Unimer survey not only portrays the economic situation, but also the emotional impact suffered from the pandemic.
In fact, the study indicates that at least 6 out of 10 in Costa Rica have had a significant personal impact in the last three months.
Exploring feelings a little more closely, it turned out that 49% of respondents have experienced anxiety attacks and 38% have felt depressed during the health emergency.
On the other hand, 70% are afraid of contracting COVID-19 and not having the defenses to face it, 65% experience anguish over death figures in other countries, and 55% feel tense due to the restrictions of affection imposed by the sanitary measures.
Unimer points out that the impact on the emotions is alarming and that the management of this alteration depends on their emotional intelligence, as well as on the financial resources they have to face the crisis.
For Elvia Fonseca, director of Qualitative Studies at the consulting firm, there are a number of factors that affect the way people react to difficult situations like the current one.
“Emotional intelligence leads us to face the pandemic in various ways. But factors such as you socioeconomic, educational level, place and type of work, savings, previous lifestyle and support from your immediate environment, are elements that can shape how to live the crisis”, she asserted.
In addition, she underlines that many have put aside their previous lives, to adopt new styles, which can remain or be diluted.
According to Fonseca, assessing aspects such as the resilience and emotional intelligence of the people helps to identify their consumption habits.
Impart of staying at home
Regarding compliance with the recommendation to stay home; 62% of respondents say that they have fully respected it; while 35% have partially done so (because they go out to work or shop) and only 3% have not fully respected it.
When asked with whom they practice confinement during this stage, the respondents indicated: 55% with their partner, 47% with their children, 39% with their mother, 25% with their father, and 24% with their siblings.
The majority (83%) affirm that they have changed their routine drastically during these days. In fact, 89% say they are looking to practice activities that make them feel better, such as exercising, reading, researching, playing, watching movies, etc.
Regarding the follow-up that they have given to the evolution of the pandemic, 90% of the sample continues to be vigilant and inform themselves on the subject of COVID-19 and only 10% avoid reading about the emergency.
In addition, there are mixed feelings about the future: 36% feel that the situation is going to extend and will tend to worsen; 32% consider that the situation can change soon and that everything can improve; while 32% have no idea if it is going to improve or if the situation is going to get worse.
The director of Qualitative Studies at Unimer affirmed that the most important conclusion that the study marks is that the pandemic brought “a new normality to all in Costa Rica” and that this triggers new consumption habits.
“We cannot stay with the thought that there is going to be a pause and that we are going to act as before, in the way we feel and behave.
“At Unimer we believe in a new normal. For some people, this can be very positive and for others very negative, depending on their emotional intelligence and key factors such as their socioeconomic status, the type of work, whether they have savings or not, the style of life they have, and how long they can support it.
“We believe that there is a new way of behaving and this leads us to have new trends, both in the way we are as humans and in the things that we are going to value much more or not,” she concluded.