Mobile-phone data shows coronavirus crushing some retail hot spots

People walk through an empty street in Myeongdong, a popular tourist and shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, on March 3, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MIAMI (BLOOMBERG) - Mobile-phone data - a proxy measure for crowds - is showing just how dramatically some of the world's retail hot spots have cleared out as coronavirus spreads.

In Seoul's Myeongdong shopping district, mobile devices plummeted about 67 per cent last weekend, compared to the weekend traffic four weeks earlier, according to UberMedia data analyzed by Webster Pacific.

In Milan's Quadrilatero della Moda, or fashion square, the crowds were down about 38 per cent last weekend compared to a month ago, based on the analysis of mobile devices in the area.

The data is reflected as a seven-day simple moving average to account for the fact that crowds are usually larger on weekends.

It captures a portion of overall devices on a given day, serving as a proxy for overall devices and, therefore, people with such devices in their pockets. The size of the sampled areas differs in Milan and Seoul.

Coronavirus cases climbed to 97,426 globally on Thursday (March 5). There have been 3,345 deaths.

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