Kearney COVID-19 model predicts when lockdowns will ease across Europe & North America


A new forecast released today from global consultancy partnership Kearney aims to predict when lockdown measures will ease across Europe, in order to support the retail sector in understanding when stores can re-open again.

According to Kearney’s model, the UK is on track for the second-longest lockdown of all the countries analysed, with the best-case scenario ending on 20 May, and the worst-case scenario extending for another month until 18 June. The United States is also set to potentially have the longest global lockdown, with the worst-case scenario currently ending on 28 June.

Austria, Belgium and Germany have already begun to lift their lockdown measures, with smaller stores up to 400 square metres now open in Austria, up to 800 square metres now open in Germany, and DIY stores and garden centres now open in Belgium.

The latest figures from the model predict the following order of lockdown easing across the 11 countries analysed with both best and worse-case scenarios:

  1. Austria – lockdown already eased as of 14 April
  2. Switzerland – lockdown predicted to end this week, 21-24 April
  3. France – lockdown predicted to end 22 April-24 May
  4. The Netherlands – lockdown predicted to end 3-5 May
  5. Belgium – lockdown predicted to end 7-13 May
  6. Canada – lockdown predicted to end 10-14 May
  7. Germany – lockdown predicted to end 10-20 May
  8. Italy – lockdown predicted to end 11-23 May
  9. Spain – lockdown predicted to end 12-22 May
  10. United Kingdom – lockdown predicted to end 20 May-18 June
  11. United States – lockdown predicted to end 27 May- 28 June

Both scenarios are modelled according to when so-called ‘Level 3’ measures will be lifted, where non-essential retailers (e.g. fashion, homeware and electronics) are closed and people are told to restrict their movements. The two models underpinning Kearney’s predictions – the Logistics and Gompertz models – both estimate this will occur 20 days after the daily rate of new COVID-19 cases drops below 1,000.

Some stores such as bookshops, stationers and children’s clothes stores have already re-opened in Italy. The model estimates that the infection peak occurred on 26 March, and has created two scenarios for the re-opening of all non-essential shops in Italy:

  • Scenario 1 – non-essential shops open in the first or second week of May, based on Austria’s plan to re-open stores on 2 May, 20 days after registering less than 1,000 new daily cases. This scenario is more likely, according to Kearney
  • Scenario 2 – non-essential shops open in the last week of May or first week of June, based on China’s experience of re-opening stores 30 days after registering less than 100 new daily cases

The Kearney tool is updated daily with the newest available data per country to map the expected evolution of the virus at a national level, but can also be drilled down into different regions per country.

Luca Rossi, the partner at Kearney behind the forecast, comments: “The point at which different countries have reached the ‘peak’ of COVID-19 has been crucial in understanding the next steps in lockdown easing – and some countries aren’t there yet.

We originally built this forecast to allow our retail clients across Europe to better understand when they may be able to open their stores to the public once again, but the forecast can be applied to global businesses in any sector looking to build timelines against when lockdowns may be eased in their respective markets.

When global lockdowns end, we are going to face a very different world, which will require an extraordinary operational overhaul to get right.”  

Bahige El-Rayes, retail & consumer products partner at Kearney, adds: “With several administrations already announced in the UK alone since the COVID-19 outbreak began, it’s vital that retailers plan effectively for the future and understand how they will function in life after lockdown. There will be a huge shift in consumer behaviour which retailers need to prepare for, in order to re-build revenue once restrictive measures start to ease.”