How has lockdown impacted younger shoppers’ health?

Ellie Tew
Shopper Insight Analyst

Date : 30 July 2020

Like many others in the 18-24 age bracket, lockdown brought on a different way of life for me. When at first, I expected my older relatives to find lockdown the hardest, it has turned out to be my friends who have struggled the most.

Living in London, most of us live in small flats and house shares – because we spent most of our lives ‘out and about’. Our homes suddenly transformed from being a base to sleep in, to being an office, gym, restaurant, pub, and hub for weekend entertainment.

Many 18 to 24 year olds are in the early stages of their careers or recently graduated. They are also more likely to be low paid or working in hospitality (the worst hit for pay and average weekly hours), and affected by zero-hours contracts.

Moreover, the estimated number of people unemployed aged 16 to 24 years increased by 47,000 YOY while other age groups remained stable. And it’s safe to assume that most of us were not ‘economically active’ in the recession of 2008 – younger shoppers were more likely to be unprepared and less likely to have savings to dip into.

So it’s not surprising that nearly two thirds of 18-24 year olds told us their mental health has been negatively impacted by lockdown.

In our most recent wave of Shoppers of Our Time research, we spoke to our community and British shoppers as a whole about what they expect the future to hold. From this, we saw that younger people felt a considerable impact on their mental health during lockdown. Several of our younger community members noted the impact on their mental health – and this was validated by the wider population. Our research indicated that the impact of lockdown on mental health appears to decrease with age.

% of shoppers who agree with each statement

Source: IGD research. Base: 2,001 British shoppers. July 15th – July 16th 2020.

But younger shoppers appear to have focused more on physical health

We also found that younger shoppers especially had tried to eat more healthily in lockdown.

% of shoppers who have claim they have tried to eat more healthily than they normally would, by age group

Prior to COVID-19, our four-part health deep dive found that younger shoppers faced different challenges when trying to be healthy: 18-24s were significantly more likely to state cost and time were challenges to being healthy.

Claimed challenges to be healthy

Source: IGD ShopperVista. Base: 1,080, all shoppers who try to be healthy but find it hard, July 2019

We also found that maintaining healthy eating at weekends was harder for younger shoppers: 51% 18-24s agree that they tend to be healthy in the week and less healthy at the weekends, compared to 36% all shoppers. Socialising with family and friends was identified as the biggest barrier – something that hasn’t been a problem during lockdown.

The newfound time in lockdown may therefore have caused younger shoppers to focus on health more. General lifestyle differences may also have acted as a driver. Gyms and sports clubs closing, for example, may have left younger people struggling to maintain exercise routines. Considering 18-35 year olds are more likely to claim weight loss as a main motivation when trying to be healthy, this is likely to have had an impact on healthy eating priorities.

Younger shoppers are also more likely to be active on social media – in lockdown many fitness instructors have switched to this medium to teach (often free) online exercise classes, along with suggested recipes and meal plans. I even dabbled in MMA and healthy cooking tutorials via my Instagram feed.

Post-COVID-19, we hypothesise that interest in holistic health will increase. Online offers a space for inspiration, and with more time spent at home, shoppers have time to explore the options available. Individual health priorities will evolve and become broader; supporting both mental and physical wellbeing will be of great importance.    

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