Half of consumers are working harder to use store cupboard ingredients and not waste food
25% of alcohol consumers are drinking more since lockdown began
The average Waitrose.com order now includes 49% more items
Shoppers have returned to bigger trolley shops, moved to online, cooked more unusual meals, snacked more, drunk more and wasted less while the UK has been in lockdown, according to a new report by Waitrose and John Lewis.
The retailer has looked at the impact working from home, home schooling, meal planning and keeping in touch with friends and family has had on shopping habits during the coronavirus outbreak.
Its findings are based on new OnePoll research of 2,000 adults in the UK, combined with sales data and online searches from the two retailers and insight from staff.
Huge demand for flour and home baking products has been fuelled by 51% of people spending more time with loved ones cooking and baking.
The lockdown has led to 45% of consumers eating differently, with half working harder to use store cupboard ingredients and not waste food, 38% snacking more, 19% sitting at the table together for more meals and 31% being more organised by making lists and meal planning.
The country has also sought more variety, with 26% cooking more exotic meals. Searches on Waitrose.com for Japanese and Thai cuisine have risen dramatically.
And despite the warm weather, many have enjoyed ‘comfort food’ at home, with recipe searches up 44%. Thirty-six per cent are spending more time cooking meals.
Alcohol sales increased as more people across the country socialised online, with pub quizzes, after-work drinks and cocktail evenings with friends all proving popular.
Tequila sales have soared 175% during lockdown, with gin and rum also popular and liqueurs up 78% as consumers try new cocktails.
Of those who drink alcohol, 25% are drinking more since lockdown and 21% are drinking less.
Waitrose said basket sizes in store doubled in the second week of lockdown when social distancing measures were put in place, while total customer numbers and shopping frequency fell to lower than the same period in 2019.
In week five, full trolley shops were up 56% compared with the same week last year and single, meal-focused shops were down more than 70%.
By week six, the average weight of a Waitrose.com order was 30% higher than usual and included 49% more items, with the supermarket doubling capacity for e-commerce orders.
The retailer added it predicted the move to online would stick as lockdown was eased. It also expected shoppers to continue seeking product innovation as they try to create restaurant experiences at home.
“As a food retailer it’s our job to keep a close eye on trends,” said Rupert Thomas, director of food and grocery at Waitrose.
“While no one could have predicted such seismic shifts to all aspects of our daily lives, one thing we’ve noted across this unprecedented period has been an increase in kindness and compassion.
“Our research finds 43% of Brits feeling closer to our neighbours and local community since the lockdown began. Two-thirds of those have clapped for the NHS and key workers, 43% have shopped for elderly or vulnerable neighbours and half say we simply smile or wave at each other more.
“We’ve seen more families taking time to sit down for a meal, baking with children, or friends trying out new cocktails over Zoom. As we’ve all been physically separated, we’ve reacted by becoming closer, reconnecting through a shared love of food. And we’d say this is a trend that’s here to stay.”
At John Lewis, the trend for more exercise at home, inspired by Joe Wicks’ daily workouts on YouTube, has driven a near 500% sales uplift in gym equipment, a 72% rise in sports shoes and 315% increase in yoga and pilates equipment.
Self-care has also extended to beauty regimes, with skincare sales up 183% while facial masks and hair treatments are up 187%.
A growing number of people are making their own protective face masks, driving sales of elastic up 1,430%.