Eating under lockdown

Dan Gillett
Shopper Insight Manager

Date : 16 June 2020

In this blog accompanying the life under lockdown part two report, Dan looks at more findings from the first community around eating, cooking and baking during lockdown and how this has changed for our community.

Food has undergone huge change during lockdown

Whether you’re in full time education and used to getting lunch at school, normally out for dinner several times a week, or a worker that in normal times couldn’t find time for breakfast – food and your relationship with it has probably changed during lockdown.

While most foodstuffs are back in stock now, there are one or two continuing shortages; flour being one of the most obvious. For flour this is partly due to a shortage, but it’s also down to a dramatic change in the cooking and baking lives of shoppers, and that is what this second blog and the report that goes with it looks at.

More cooking, more shopping

With more time at home, and more people at home, shoppers have found themselves cooking and baking more to keep everyone fed, and as something to do. In fact, nearly 60% of shoppers told us that they had cooked or baked more than they normally would have done under lockdown.

Some have found this process a positive, with more time to eat breakfast or experiment with new and different foods – half of shoppers cooked recipes they hadn’t before, while just under a third ate foods they wouldn’t normally - while some are, frankly, bored of finding something to make.

Despite that, the majority intend to continue with this trend – with nearly two thirds of those who said they had cooked and baked more during lockdown indicating that they intended to do so once life returns to ‘normal’.

More food has come at a cost

Households with children at home, in particular, have seen a rise in the amount they spend on food overall during lockdown:

This includes spend on takeaways, eating out and food-to-go and perhaps goes some way to explaining why 18-24 year olds are the only group where more claim to have spent less on food and groceries.

Positives from a difficult situation

On the positive side, with more time at home, more households and families have managed to sit down and eat meals together during lockdown than previously. Nearly half of households with children said they were eating together more, and for our community members with children at home – either permanently or temporarily – this is something they have valued.

However, it’s not just households with children at home – a quarter of the rest of households said they were also eating more meals together, including flat sharers who had seen external social lives restricted and found themselves sharing meals with their flatmates instead.

Things to consider

There have been positives for shoppers eating more at home – whether that be more time together, more experimentation or just enhancing cooking and baking skills. But the increased cost for some shoppers, particularly in the economic challenges that are likely to follow lockdown, are unlikely to be sustainable.

How can you help bring the out-of-home experience in-home and keep food as a core part of the social lives of shoppers? How can you help them develop the cooking skills they have been using, and try new things? How can you help continue the increased meal occasions with people eating together, that would not normally? But, importantly, how can you do this in a sustainable way – with pricing that meets the needs of shoppers who are likely to be stretched for cash in future?

Coming next

Our next reports will be a look to the future, and how our households and the British people expect life to change in the future, if at all, touching on their wider lives as well as food and groceries. We will pay particular attention to eating out and sustainability in food, but also look wider at their social and work lives. Keep an eye out for those reports in July.

Shoppers of Our Time

In the second and final part of the life under lockdown report, we look at how eating, cooking and baking habits changed after the 23rd March, as well as at the social aspects of food and how our community, and the nation, has missed those.

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