The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Use of the Menor Preço Brasil Application
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The Menor Preço Brasil application, based on a version developed in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, was launched in 2019 with the aim of expanding digital services to citizens. This application provides information on the nearest establishments and their product prices
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The Menor Preço Brasil application, based on a version developed in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, was launched in 2019 with the aim of expanding digital services to citizens. This application provides information on the nearest establishments and their product prices based on issued invoices. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, this application adapted its service to facilitate access to prevention products. We are not aware of any other similar government application that uses individual invoice data to support citizens in finding products closer to them at better prices. This study aims to verify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of the Menor Preço Brasil app service. To this end, it investigates both the correlation between confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brazil and the changes in the application’s functionalities with the variation in citizens’ queries to the application. It is a quantitative approach. For this purpose, Bai and Perron’s method of identifying multiple structural breaks and regression models are employed. The results indicate five structural breaks in the number of queries to the application, and that a 1% increase in COVID-19 cases led to a 0.2% increase in queries. These results confirm that user behavior related to the Menor Preço Brasil
application was influenced not only by changes in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases but also by those in the app’s features and inflation rates. The literature also tends to consider the relevance of the relative effects of risk aversion on behavior, especially in the relationship with the tax authorities. This study reinforces the position of the initial relevance of risk aversion and when trust gradually strengthening the aversion to losses diminishes. The public sector has progressively increased the availability of digital services over time, and the results of this study underscore their significance in coping with extreme situations, such as pandemics, natural disasters, and other challenges to accessing goods and services.