Thinking ahead

Dan Gillett
Shopper Insight Manager

Date : 24 July 2020

A lot has changed since we spoke to our Shoppers of Our Time community in May and June, with lockdown restrictions and social distancing rules changing, shops and schools reopening, and a slow return to workplaces.

We caught up with the thirty members of our community in early July through video calls, and followed this up with a survey of 2,000 people.

In-home may remain the new out-of-home

The government is very keen for us to return to a normality of eating out at cafes, restaurants and pubs in order to boost the economy. In aid of this, measures were announced to provide 50% off a meal at participating restaurants during August.

However, the British public do not necessarily appear to be in the mood to do so. 63% of shoppers are nervous about going to eat out in restaurants now they have reopened, with 71% saying they will wait for a period of time before going back. This has been reflected in lower customer numbers since the 4th July “Super Saturday”.

This nervousness has barely changed since we last asked at the beginning of June, despite the measures that the food service industry has put in place.

Many have found positives in eating at home and intend to continue to do so, whether the aim be to save money – with nearly half of shoppers claiming they will eat out at restaurants less in future to save money - entertain family and friends at home or simply because they have enjoyed cooking at home.

Life after COVID-19 will be different, not necessarily worse

The majority of shoppers expect that life will be different after lockdown. After such monumental change in such a short period of time, we should expect that - it would almost be disappointing for life to return to exactly how it was.

Many shoppers told us that they expected to shake hands less in future, and 43% said they would travel on airlines less often in future. Nearly 60% are worried about the impact COVID-19 will have on future generations.

But 53% of shoppers claim to have seen a deal of positive change to their lives during lockdown – eating together more as a family, more time for exercise or hobbies, or simply less time commuting.

This does not apply to all age groups, however, with a marked affluence split. Less affluent shoppers, who will be more exposed to challenges, have seen less in the way of positives. Support for this group will be essential going forward.

A second spike is considered inevitable

81% of shoppers are worried about a second spike of COVID-19. This may not happen, with promising progress on a vaccine and a lack of certainty about the illness itself – but it pays to be prepared.

A third of shoppers expect to stock up on certain items in the event of a second lockdown, and nearly two thirds intend to shop online more. The empty shelves we saw in early March might not be a thing of the past, and the build-up of online capacity that has taken place over the last few months may yet be tested fully again. We looked closely at the categories shoppers were likely to stock up on in earlier reports, and I would encourage you to take a look at these to support your demand planning.

What next?

We plan to take a closer look at changes to attitudes towards health and sustainability in the next community, which will take place at the beginning of August and be published later than month – so keep an eye out for that.

Looking ahead of that, we will be picking up with our households as we head towards Christmas and New Year, to find out what planning for big events looks like during a pandemic. Recent data included in the full report shows that over half of shoppers are intending to plan events closer to the time than they normally would – what could that mean for you, and how might that change your marketing plans?

Shoppers of Our Time

A lot has changed since we last spoke to the Shoppers of Our Time community. We caught up with all 30 of them to find out what changes the 4th July “Super Saturday” unlocking might bring to their cooking and eating habits, as well as their social and family lives, and what they expected the short and medium term future to look like.

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