Impact of Covid 19 on Shopping Habits
On 23rd March 2020 the UK went into lock down to slow down the spread of Coronavirus. The Lock Down was announced by the Prime Minister’s T V address to the nation on 23rd March 2020 and came just 72 hours after the announcement that all pubs, cafés and restaurants would close with immediate effect. Supermarkets introduced social distancing measures and for the first-time post rationing, the UK shopper has been queuing to buy food.
What is the impact of these measures on our shopping and eating habits?
Two weeks into Lock Down we ran a survey amongst our consumer data base to find out.
Not surprisingly most of the respondents are staying at home. During the week of 30th March only 22% were going to work as normal and most of this group were key workers. Almost 85% admitted that their shopping behaviours had changed. People are visiting local supermarkets, convenience stores and farm shops instead of larger outlets and are prepared to accept less choice as a trade off for shorter queues and less travel time. 1 in 5 would like to use on-line shopping but have been unable to secure a delivery slot.
Without both the diversion of eating out and the freedom to shop as required, over half of our respondents state they are more aware of the food they are buying and what they will do with it whilst a third say they are trying to be more inventive to make their food go further.
There is evidence of a change in cooking behaviours with almost 20% starting to cook from scratch, focusing more on the nutritional benefits of their food and trying alternative ingredients. Over 60% of shoppers are happy to buy alternatives if their first choice is not available although 16% are put off if they don’t recognize the product or ingredients, for example, pasta made from buckwheat.
The impact of these changes for the food industry in the longer term remain to be determined but the current situation raises many interesting questions:
- Will the return to the weekly shop continue as people realise it saves them money?
- Will taking lunch to work become the new normal and how will this impact our café culture?
- Will this enforced trial of new products or brands set longer term habits?
- Will our taste for ready meals reduce as we become more adept at cooking?
And probably most interesting of all – where does our need for safety and security align with our environmental concerns around plastic food wrap and cleaning chemicals? How trusted will unpackaged fruit and vegetables and ecological cleaning products be in our post Lock Down world?