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Happy New Year! (well, maybe…)

February 17, 2022
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The saying “a week is a long time in Politics” could be plagiarized to “a month is a long time in COVID”.

Back in Dec 2021, we asked Australians if they thought 2022 would be Better, Worse or About the Same for them as 2021*.

Nearly 40% thought it definitely would be Better. Only 10% thought it would be Worse.

When we ran the poll in early December, Omicron was nothing more than a whisper on the horizon and Delta was on the wane. Borders were due to come down, the economy to open up and things were looking much better in our COVID-stricken world.

Not surprisingly, people were feeling optimistic.

After 2 years, life might finally return to normal in 2022.

Or so we thought.

Fast forward to early January when we asked the same question again, did they think this year (2022) would be Better, Worse or About the Same as 2021. Now only 29% thought it would be Better and the number expecting it to be worse had jumped to 18%. The shift in both numbers is significant.

In early Jan, Omicron was rife in all Eastern States and only WA was relatively COVID-free. COVID had once again significantly affected Australia’s state of mind. Things had shifted dramatically for the worse in just 30 days. All thanks to a “highly transmissible virus” which understandably made people fear 2022 could be more of the same. Lockdowns. Restrictions. Life not as we know it. Certainly not life as we love it.

Looking more closely at the results, the shift was greatest amongst 18-35yr olds. In Dec, 51% had high hopes for 2022, by Jan only 35% were still optimistic. The reality of Omicron surging through this age group more than any other was clearly a massive factor in their feelings, as well as ruining their Christmas and New Year plans - who wants to Iso in the holidays!

Hardest hit by the high transmissibility of Omicron, maybe young Australians were now feeling a little vulnerable and realizing COVID could affect them as much as their grandparents.

Across the country the knock-on effects from Omicron affect the disposition of Australians as much as the virus itself. In WA, for example, where there were still next to no cases in Jan, people feeling 2022 would be better than 2021 had nevertheless dropped a staggering 23%! 43% felt it would be better in Dec but only 20% in January. With no COVID really present, it looks like it’s the threat of isolation from family and friends out East which depresses them.

It is not a revelation to say COVID is a roller coaster. The ebbs and flows of emotion we feel as the virus takes off and then wanes; when vaccination rates rise and restrictions are eased, has made many more of us acutely aware of our mental health. Whether we feel the year will be better or worse than the previous one is a blunt measure of this.

Let’s all hope we can put Omicron behind us and the optimism for 2022 we felt before Christmas is delivered in spades. We all want to come out the other side of the COVID curtain and have some good, old fashioned, carefree Aussie good times.

Here’s to a Happy New Year, from all of us at Potentiate.

* Courtesy Ovation Research

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