As we head into level 4, South Africans strongly support lockdown

More than eight in every ten online South Africans (84%) agree that a total lockdown was correct - given the risks of the Covid-19 epidemic.

These is one of the results of an online study of 1,000 South African adults, conducted from 20 to 22 April 2020. Despite a lot of comments in the media and critique from individuals, online South Africans from all working status groups share this opinion – as illustrated in the table below.



Working Full-time

Working Part-time

Not working


Government is over-reacting, a total lockdown is excessive and will not solve the issue






A total lockdown is correct, given the risk







This acceptance is expressed by all age groups, however those aged 56 years and older, and to a lesser degree those between 26 and 35 years, are less supportive. The latter group’s apprehension might be related to having to look after young children / keep them entertained during this period of lockdown.


Total %

18-25 %

26-35 %

36-45 %

46-55 %

56-65 %

Government is overreacting, a total lockdown is excessive and will not solve the issue







A total lockdown is correct given the risk








Expected an extension

The opinion that lockdown would be extended past the end of April was also expected by the majority of online South Africans (78%), and the government’s announcements during this last week did not come as a surprise to many.

Lockdown will be extended past the end of April 2020 %
Strongly agree 47
Somewhat agree 31
Somewhat disagree 6
Strongly disagree 3
Don’t know 13


Taking the support for the lockdown into account, it comes as no surprise that online South Africans feel very strongly (86%) that the people who break the rules should not expect a lot of mercy.

There should be heavy fines for people who break lockdown rules %
Strongly agree 66
Somewhat agree 20
Somewhat disagree 8
Strongly disagree 5
Don’t know 1


In fact, almost everyone (92%) agreed that they take Covid-19 risks into account when they think about where they will go, who they will meet and what they will do on a particular day:

I take Covid-19 risks into account when I think about where I will go, who I will meet and what I will do today %
Strongly agree 74
Somewhat agree 18
Somewhat disagree 3
Strongly disagree 2
Prefer not to answer 1
Don’t know 2


Shopping Behaviour

The fear of infection has not led to a total change in shopping behaviour, as we will see shortly, but a fifth (22%) indicated that they are using online shopping more frequently than a month ago to purchase products that they would normally buy in-store. This “new behaviour” is prevalent among all age groups, but more so in the 26 - 35 year age group.

  Age profile of more frequent online shoppers
18-25 22
26-35 36
36-45 23
46-55 12
56-65 7


Although this seems to suggest that marketers should aim their advertising and products primarily to younger people and specifically the 26 - 35 age group, it is clear, if we look at the list of products now bought online that these are mostly products used by the full age spectrum of online shoppers:

Have you used online shopping to purchase products you would normally buy in-store %
Toiletries 59
Food and beverages 57
Sanitation (like hand sanitisers) 57
Clothing / footwear / accessories 40
Other personal care products, like shampoo and toothbrushes etc. 39
Books 29
Video games 23
Arts and crafts items / supplies / kits 12
Toys 8


95% of online South Africans have left their homes recently to go shopping for food and supplies, which might seem contradictory to the strong support for the lockdown measures. However, two-thirds of online South Africans (67%) also say that they are visiting major shopping centres less frequently. A trip to the neighbourhood store might be a way to counter cabin fever, but South Africans are still apprehensive about visiting the large regional shopping centres.

Thinking about your day-to-day activities, would you say you are going to a major shopping centre... %
More frequently 5
Less frequently 67
No change 3
Rarely or never 25


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mari Harris

Director and Political Analyst,
Ipsos South Africa

Mobile: +27 (0)82 557 5058

[email protected]

Ezethu Mandlelize

Service Line Manager: Public Affairs,
Ipsos South Africa

Mobile: +27 (0)74 617 8023

[email protected]


About the Study

  • These are the results of an Ipsos South Africa survey conducted from 20 – 22 April 2020 on Ipsos South Africa’s Online platform, with a sample of 1,000 adults aged 18-65. They are from all provinces and population groups the study is representative of the almost two thirds of South Africans who can access internet at home or on their mobile phones.
  • Ipsos weighted and projected the results to the online population: those who have internet access at home or on their smart phones.
  • Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't know or not stated responses. The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points.