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Shopping Habits Changes Due to COVID-19


Coronavirus has had a big impact on the way we live, from social distancing measures, right down to our shopping habits. Our shopping habits have changed, and they’re likely to be a little different when things start becoming a bit more normal again.

While we’ve seen a shift towards online shopping, there’s been a change to the kinds of things people are buying too. So, we’re going to have a look at the changes to our shopping habits, and how shopping will change when things are a little closer to normal.

Online Shopping Was Big!

Naturally, when you’re trying your best to remain indoors, online shopping is a great alternative. With minimal contact being a big draw, it’s not hard to see why. With supermarket delivery slots quickly being fully booked at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a push for people to book a recurring slot. 

person using laptop computer holding card

It wasn’t just an increase in online shopping, it was a change in what we were buying. Travelling abroad has been complicated in 2020, so a lot of holiday plans were changed. Travel has since come back, with much more focus on holidaying in the UK. The coastal areas saw a lot of interest from tourists looking for a staycation.

There was a huge increase in the demand for home and garden products though. Naturally, when you’re spending all your time in the house, you want it to look nice. People took the time to get their green fingers in gear, with many taking up gardening. Not only was it a great way to cut down on the need for a supermarket trip, but it proved a therapeutic and fun hobby for some. 

We Tried New Hobbies

Being stuck indoors may leave some a little bored, so naturally people started getting creative. Learning apps saw a surge in interest, people started buying up tools and creative equipment. And streaming services were so popular they initially struggled to cope with demand.

brown paint brushes on assorted-color paint palette

From recipe kits to hobby boxes, subscription boxes were a great way to cut out the contact and get stocked up on the essentials, and the extras. Not to mention the Amazon buttons that let you put a new order of the essentials in with one click saw some interest. 

Another interesting development was that people were buying less formal clothing. With a lot of people making the switch to working from home, there was less need for smart clothes. And when you have the option of wearing your dressing gown to work, you tend to take it.

While takeaways were also popular, there was also a surge in interest for gym equipment. With gyms shut at the beginning of the pandemic, it made sense. But going forward people now people have the gear at home, there’s less need for memberships

New In-Store Shopping Habits

While we saw a rush for the essentials to start with, shops got a little quieter when the lock down began. Most shops were closed, but supermarkets stayed open, but with guidelines for your shopping experience. Some products like toilet paper and hand sanitiser were sold out initially. But with time, shelves quickly became abundant with these products again. 

woman in black long sleeve shirt standing in front of clothes

Social distancing measures are important to stick to while you’re at the store. And you need to wear face masks in shops around the UK. There are also new barriers between customers and cashiers, max capacities which leads to some queuing, and a focus on contactless payments. So the shopping experience is different to say the least.

There’s also a need to minimise your contact with the products. While maybe we used to pick up an item just to have a closer look, it’s discouraged now. And in some cases, stores offer ways to bypass cashiers altogether. By bringing a bag for life and taking advantage of “scan and go” systems, you can reduce your contact even more.

When it comes to takeaways, we’ve seen a big turn to deliveries. With a lot of restaurants turning to platforms like Deliveroo and Uber Eats to get their food out there. This includes restaurants that were previously eat-in only, and in some cases Michelin star restaurants.

man with Uber eats backpack

Naturally people have been ordering takeaways throughout the lock down. But now that the “Eat Out to Help Out” offer means a lot of restaurants are offering discount from Monday to Wednesday, there’s a shift towards eating out.

Changes to Our Shopping Habits Going Forward

While the nationwide lock down has eased up, local lock downs are becoming the new norm. Not to mention people are a lot more conscious about their actions when they’re shopping in-store. We’re likely to see social distancing, face masks and hand sanitization stations being a regular thing.

There’s no denying COVID-19 has had its impact on retailers. With some having to shut their doors, and others needing a little help to weather the storm. But there’s a chance when these stores shut, that smaller independent retailers take their spot. The shift towards online shopping is likely to stick around too.

An unexpected benefit of the Coronavirus was its impact on the environment. With less cars on the roads and less planes in the sky, we saw some real evidence of the effect cutting down carbon emissions can have. After seeing this, a lot of people started doing their bit to live a bit more sustainably.

cycle route sign on a wooden post

From seeking out sustainably made products, to cycling. It’s a trend that is likely to continue for a lot of people. It’s not just the consumers, the brands are taking a more mindful approach with their products too! From the item itself, to the packaging and the supply chain. For a few ideas on green changes you can make, check out our article on eco-friendly alternatives.

A lot of people have had time to reflect and make better choices. There’s been a big focus on self-improvement and our shopping habits have reflected this. Whether that’s picking up new skills, trying to be less wasteful, or going for some eco-friendly options. And that’s likely to have a big impact on our shopping habits going forward.


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