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For the Bank of England, tracking inflation and understanding consumer behaviour has become increasingly difficult and so they have turned to Internet search data for help.
Internet search data has already been used by the Bank to track the housing and labour markets, but according to the Bank’s latest quarterly bulletin, they are raising the possibility of using the data to trace consumer behaviour as well.
Terms such as “Jobseeker’s Allowance” have provided insightful information regarding trends in unemployment whilst terms such as “Estate Agents” are giving insights into house price trends. The bank has said this has been a far more useful tool to gauge trends than some of the traditional established surveys they have used in the past.
Reports are suggesting the bank is beginning to find public dissatisfaction with their current performance, due to a fear of inflation rises. The bank themselves have said there are significant uncertainties over the measures they are currently using to track inflation – and this latest development could prove to be a shrewd move to better understand modern day, real time consumer behaviour.
With traditional economic data only being available on a monthly or quarterly basis, the breakthrough idea to use search data could provide the Bank with immediate information on a daily basis. This will go some way to help produce what the bank are referring to as the ‘Nowcast’, an analysis and forecast of the current economic state.
In their quarterly bulletin, the Bank said, “We will continue to monitor these data as part of the range of different indicators it considers in forming its view about the outlook for the economy of the United Kingdom”.
It is through Google Trends that the bank have monitored search trends, a useful tool to give them a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour instead of a rough idea of the sectors that money is being spent. With Google Trends, the bank can monitor more than just sector spend, but even products and services that money is being spent on.