For most of us, when we want to know something, we search online. In fact, it is such natural impulse that minute changes in UK-wide online searches can offer insight into the national psyche. And according to Google Trends – the eponymous company’s free service by which anyone can check what everyone else has been searching for – that’s precisely what it’s done for the last while.
Out of curiosity, I loaded up Google Trends to take a look at how online searches have changed between 1 February 2020 and the end of May. Including February means we have a good lead-in baseline to see what the pre-coronavirus ‘normal’ looked like. For example: here is the plot for how much people were searching for “face mask” during those dates: