Retail spends and pandemic trends

Posted 19th March 2021

We have all had to adapt to new ways of living in the past 12 months with school shut-downs, reduced services, travel bans and so on, and that’s not to mention the trauma of being separated from our loved ones, and fear of contracting the disease itself.

What we shop for has changed too. Pulse takes a look back at our spending habits over the past extraordinary 12 months…

None of us will have forgotten the shameful behaviour exhibited at stores up and down the country a year ago, as people stripped supermarket shelves of staple items.

Despite retailers doing their best to reassure us there was plenty to go around, images of selfishness flooded social media as people filled their trolleys with pasta, flour, tinned vegetables and toilet rolls which in turn promoted more panic buying and bigger supply issues.

But when things settled into a ‘new normal,’ our general shopping habits changed too.

The last year has been anything but ordinary, and as covid 19 quickly became a global issue, travel went off the menu for many people, and so unsurprisingly, searches for new suitcases and bags took a nosedive.

But searches for things including deodorants, soaps and skin cleansers also plummeted at the first lockdown, and never really recovered!

There is no suggestion that we are turning into a nation of scruffs and paying less attention to our hygiene, but perhaps we have realised that we don’t need the sheer volume of items that clog up the bathroom cabinet.

And there is no need to splash on the aftershave or give a liberal spray of your choice of fragrance for a zoom meeting, is there?

Many people have said that a life in lockdown has been a problem for the waistline, with lots of us piling on the pounds. But at the other end of the scale gym bunnies, unable to visit their fitness centre of choice, clicked online and went crazy for exercise equipment.

During the first lockdown of 2020, there was a huge surge in items including weights, dumbbells and exercise mats. The purchases did cool off during the warmer summer months though, when the health conscious among us swapped working out inside and made the most of the warm weather and the sun on our backs. 

With more and more people swapping the office for working from home, sales of tables rose considerably too, as we realised that a laptop on the sofa wasn’t really going to do the job adequately and searched for more ergonomic ways of doing the 9 to 5. 

What we do with our free time has of course been impacted by the pandemic; no longer is it possible to go for ‘a quick pint,’ you can forget about the simple pleasure of a bag of popcorn and the latest blockbuster, and theatre trips, live music and museums are all forbidden pleasures.

With more of us spending more time at home, we looked at upgrading our entertainment systems – with new televisions a top choice.

End of year sales and new lockdowns only increased the buying, and 2020 became the year we upgraded our home tech more than ever before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we went on the hunt for better visual items than those that are built into our devices; web camera searches last March and April increased by a whopping 387%

In recent years the country has been obsessed by the art of baking, with millions of us tuning in to watch participants whipping up a clever cake or sensational scone on The Great British Bake Off.

But time spent in lockdown has turned us into a nation of pinny wearing banana bread enthusiasts, hasn’t it? 

It’s a great way to pass the time and have fun with the kids, and licking the bowl of cake mixture is back in fashion, but cooking isn’t the only tradition we’ve rediscovered.

Arts and crafts are on the rise again too, with scrapbooking, knitting and crocheting and card making among the most popular.

Jigsaw puzzles are another old-fashioned form of entertainment which enjoyed an incredible revival during in 2020. 

But one item that few of us would have used before the pandemic has become an everyday essential for everyone; face masks became the ‘must-have’ items with everyone looking to protect themselves from the virus.

Now that they are mandatory, we have had to adapt to ‘dressing’ our faces before heading out in public, although it seems not everyone has mastered the art of wearing masks correctly, or disposing of them properly. Please cut the cords and pop them in the bin!