News and Insights

How lockdown life changed consumer behaviours By Laurel Waldron, Vice President

April 28, 2021

It’s evident that the past year has had a phenomenal impact, not just on how UK consumers spend their money, but how they spend their time. Since the country first shut its doors during Lockdown 1.0 way back in March 2020 – something of a distant memory now that we’ve got three under our significantly tightened belts – there’s been something of a step-change in both habits and hobbies as the nation experienced a year like no other.

We’ve become saturated with data over the last 12 months as analysis of how we spent our time in lockdown reached fever pitch. From a surge in demand for home improvements as we rushed to build home offices, to a decline in suit sales as our need for office wear dissipated, the FINN Europe Consumer Team and Global Intelligence Team explored the consumer attitudes and trends we’ve seen over the last year, as the UK prepares to leave lockdown – hopefully for good – and take advantage of an increased level of freedom.

Resolutions: the best of intentions

While we may have kicked off 2020 with the very best intentions when it came to New Year’s Resolutions, the onset of lockdown soon put paid to those. Amongst men the top resolutions in 2020 were to drink less alcohol and watch less TV, yet after a year of somewhat relying on both while trapped in our houses, 2021 saw losing weight and eating more healthily coming out on top.

Those results could be seen as somewhat unsurprising given the trend for home alcohol deliveries over the last year, coupled with data that online grocery orders and restaurant takeaways have skyrocketed: Uber Eats’ revenue was up 124% from 20191 as the nation collectively tired of yet more home cooking and turned to delivery services to ease gastronomic boredom.

Resolutions among women took a similar turn with the dawn of 2021 favouring saving money, losing weight and eating more healthily; as the pandemic altered the consumer conversation from a focus on physical fitness and aesthetics to one around what it means to be physically and emotionally healthy, these are thoughts that will stand the test of time long after the pandemic has left us.

Dressing for success

As we now start to grapple with the idea of returning to offices, and as children returned to school in March, consumers were preparing to dress for success once more, getting set to banish the loungewear to the back of the drawer once and for all. Searches for workwear have recently surpassed 2019 levels, indicating we’re more than ready to say sayonara to the sweatpants and smarten up our wardrobes again. With school uniform sales up a whopping 2,000% as well2, parents were clearly ready for term to start.

For the many who found themselves with time finally on their hands for home improvements, the start of the pandemic saw an increase in searches for the likes of paint brushes and decorating ideas. Though they trailed off, the refreshed trend for these indicates a renewed vigour for DIY; could it be that with savings bolstered by lack of commuting and holidays, consumers are making the most of the unexpected bonus and using it for home improvements?

The effect of the pandemic of the last 12 months has undoubtedly impacted consumer habits; regardless of salary and status, it’s impossible to have escaped it.

The FINN Global Intelligence and healthcare communications agency Team will continue to monitor developments in consumer trends; stay tuned for more insight. Read the full report online here.

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TAGS: Consumer & Lifestyle