Google Maps Data Reveals Our Faltering New Year’s Health Resolutions

Searches for local liquor stores and ice cream shops tell some uncomfortable truths about our new year's health kicks.
Jack Turner

A new year is usually the opportunity for reflection and self-improvement and a post-holiday health kick. But, new Google Maps data shows that in 2021, our new year’s resolutions look like more of a rocky start than a Rocky montage.

It seems that many of us are turning to gin instead of the gym, and ice cream searches are up, too, as people look for pint-sized comfort in the pandemic.

We’re also searching for fast food more than we did last January. But, in the midst of this pandemic, we don’t think that anyone is going to judge too harshly.

Drinking Through the Pandemic

One of the most popular new year’s resolutions that sprung up over the past decade is Dry January. This is a chance that many of us take to take amends for the festive period and the copious amounts of alcohol that Christmas and New Year's Eve brings.

While Google searches show that a small increase interest for the term (a 4% rise from January 2020 to January 2021), US data from Google Maps feels like it’s telling a slightly different story.

January 2020 saw a 40% drop in local searches for liquor stores, versus the month before; in January 2021, the drop was just 6%

Last January, local searches for wine shops and liquor store fell by almost 40% compared to December 2019, as we tried our hardest to abstain and it felt like a great new year was about to begin. In January 2021, however, there has only been a 11% and 6% drop respectively compared to searches for wine and liquor shops in December 2020.

Pandemic Eating Habits

Google has unearthed some very revealing data about our diets during the pandemic. Firstly, the good news – it turns out that we’re at least showing an interest in starting the new year eating right. Searches for healthy food saw a bump of 46% at the start of January, compared to December.

However, that doesn’t tell the full story. Dig deeper, and you’ll find that while we are searching for salads, we’re also looking for something a little sweeter. Ice cream shops have seen a 10% increase in searches on Google Maps, comparing January 2021 to December 2020.

While January 2020 saw a 20% drop in searches for fast food restaurants (versus the month before), this year, it was only a tiny 1.5% decrease

We may also be struggling to let go of any bad habits we’ve picked up during the pandemic. While January 2020 saw a 20% drop in searches for fast food restaurants (versus the month before), this year it was only a tiny 1.5% decrease.

You can see trend even more clearly if you drill down into the delivery services. Door Dash interest on Google has saw a 35% increase in the first week of January 2021, compared to January 2020. In fairness, there’s every chance that these people could have been ordering salads…

Ice cream shops have seen a 10% increase in local search interest in January 2021, versus December 2020

Keeping Fit During COVID-19

While some areas have seen gyms and fitness clubs close due to the pandemic, making it harder to say in shape, there is one sport that has seen a spike. Searches for skiing resorts have actually doubled this year compared to 2020 – possibly because it’s a physical activity that lends itself to social distancing. That said, we'd caution with the case of the Alpine ski resort that was described as the “ground zero” of the coronavirus first wave in Europe back in March 2020.

Outside of Google’s data, there are signs that many of us are turning our backs on the gym and exercising in our own homes instead. Peloton, makes of exercise bikes and treadmills, reported last year that it had experience a 172% surge in sales, with more than a 1 million people signing up for its streaming classes.

Also seeing a small boost is the fitness watch market. Despite supply issues at the start of the year due to manufacturing and retail closures, the market has still seen a 7% increase in the past year, with people tracking their at home progress and monitoring workouts with these devices.

A fitness watch can be a great help to stay motivated during the pandemic, and doesn't need to break the bank either. We've rated the best Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers you can buy.

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Jack is the Content Manager for Tech.co. He has been writing about a broad variety of technology subjects for over a decade, both in print and online, including laptops and tablets, gaming, and tech scams. As well as years of experience reviewing the latest tech devices, Jack has also conducted investigative research into a number of tech-related issues, including privacy and fraud.

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