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What Have We Been Buying During Lockdown?

Posted by Nicola Hartley on June 19, 2020

A close up of a hand holding a credit card. Also in the picture is a laptop, a notepad and pencil and a mobile phone

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

It’s almost embarrassing to admit how many times in a day the doorbell rings with a parcel laid neatly on the doorstep. Now, just to be clear, these are not gifts sent to me by loved ones, these are purchases I am gifting to myself. Sound familiar?

When the nation was told we were going into lockdown, how did people react? Bulk buying toilet roll, stockpiling tinned goods, hoarding every pasta shape that has ever been made and effectively battening down the hatches became the key things. Fast forward 13 weeks and we are still here. Yes, some restrictions have been lifted, but ultimately, we are still waiting this thing out.

After the panic buying and hysteria subsided, and we realised there were plenty of essentials to go round, our minds turned to new “essentials”. No longer were party dresses, jeans, suits, or even fuel for cars a priority. Socialising has been replaced with video calls, cinema has been replaced with renting a new release on your favourite streaming service, train fares have been replaced with walking a few steps to the new study area you have carved out for yourself, and going to the gym has turned into a walk, or jog, in the park.

Bearing in mind the Government guidelines for over 70s, or under 70s with underlying health conditions, it has not been possible for those in this category to physically go out and shop during this uncertain time. Step in and say hello to online shopping!

We spent an estimated £106 billion online in 2019; we are most certainly a consumer-driven country filled with serious shoppers. This figure would indicate that on average, we each spent around £1,600 a year online. Amazing!

For an entire generation, purchasing online for the first time will have been one of the most daunting parts of being in isolation. This type of shopping does not come naturally to everyone, but needs must, and some will have been forced to join the modern-day shopping experience through sheer necessity – and it is certainly a useful skill to master.

So, what have we been buying since we’ve had more time on our hands? We seem to have more time to research, compare products and find the one which best suits our needs at the right price. Ad hoc, or impulse buys, have dwindled and been replaced by a stringent, thoughtful selection process.

Though it may have started with toilet paper and long-life milk, shopping quickly moved on to activewear and cans of paint. Quite honestly, the more time we are all spending at home, the more we’ve realised how much around the house needs doing. With makeshift offices, quiet study zones and workout areas having all become imperative, we appear to have really taken to DIY. It may have started with a few shelves, but very quickly the country turned their hands to building sheds, office space, furniture and even to painting the house – what a sense of satisfaction!

Along with the huge spike in demand for tools, decorating gear and materials, we have seen garden furniture and gardening equipment also selling out in record time. The prolonged spell of sunny weather in May led to people using their gardens more, and making them comfortable and beautiful for those social distance meet-ups has become a requirement.

The surge in getting fit and feeling comfortable while at home has rocketed, with celebrities such as Rio Ferdinand and Joe Wicks offering free virtual classes (and a sneak peek into their homes), as well as local gyms providing virtual personal training and group sessions. We may not be going anywhere, but we are certainly moving!

Physical exercise not only keeps you looking and feeling healthier, but it also boosts mental wellbeing, definitely an area that needs some much-needed TLC during Covid-19.

We’ve seen a massive spike in pedal exercisers, yoga mats, resistive bands, and hand exercisers sales on Ability Superstore.

As with many other online retailers, we’ve been operating throughout the lockdown providing a much-needed service to all our customers. We’ve noticed certain products selling in waves, with spikes in the sales of:

And now, as the lockdown is eased, we are seeing an increase in the sale of mobility products which help customers access the outside world including rollators, walking sticks and outdoor grab rails.

Online sales of baking products have also increased over the last few weeks, too. Many supermarkets and online retailers have sold out of both flour and yeast. Banana bread, sourdough loaves, brownies, crumpets, and artisan baguettes; we seem to have found a new way to get creative, making use of our time at home and eating some well-deserved carbs after all that exercise!

Do we think that online has garnered a new wave of consumer behaviour? The online delivery figures for 2020 will be very telling. There’s nothing like a trip to the shops though, and online shopping can’t replace this entirely, particularly when restaurants and other eateries are allowed to open.

Throughout the past few months, we have learnt how to be resilient and innovative with our buying choices. We have proven ourselves to be creative, responsible shoppers, investing in our homes and ourselves – money well spent, we would say!