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Everything has changed in such a short space of time – including how we shop for our groceries. How did our supermarket shops and spending change over lockdown?

money on a table

The shortages

Over the course of lockdown, we saw shortages of tinned goods, toilet paper, flour, hand soap and sanitiser. In fact, at the beginning of March of this year – many supermarkets were left with bare shelves due to a wave of panic-stricken buying.

Both the UK public and supermarkets had to adapt quickly to a lot of changes in a short space of time, some of which included things like rationing on certain household items and special opening hours for key workers and the more vulnerable.

Many online slots were saved for those who were self-isolating with symptoms or shielding – meaning that there was a shortage of delivery slots, which forced a lot of people to flock to queuing for hours and hours at supermarkets instead.

So while we acknowledge the changes that have been made to the way we’ve kept ourselves entertained, socialised with friends and bought our groceries during the pandemic; – how has lockdown affected our spending, in particular our grocery shopping habits?

Lockdown spending change

Over the course of lockdown, Fablious’ lockdown spending statistics showed that the overall amount spent from the end of March until the beginning of August went up 17%. Surprisingly, the total amount spent on supermarket shopping increased by 18%, however, the number of transactions decreased slightly by 1% – suggesting that while we were spending more on our shops, we were making fewer trips to our local shops. Smart! 

Where were grocery shoppers spending the most money in one shop?

Overall the spending at most UK supermarkets increased – as shoppers saved up, stocked up and shopped both online and in-store, with people spending 26% more on general groceries in March than they did in February and 15% more in April than in March. 

While many employees were put on the job retention scheme and others took the pandemic as an opportunity to save up, cheaper supermarkets such as Morrisons, ASDA, Lidl and Aldi saw the largest increases in the amount of money being spent at their stores in one transaction.

  • Morrisons (↑32%)
  • ASDA (↑27%)
  • Lidl (↑22%)
  • Tesco’s (↑21%)
  • Aldi (↑20%)
  • Sainsbury’s (↑16%)

What other industries saw an increase in spending?

Supermarkets weren’t the only ones who saw an increase in the amount of money being spent on them. As well as supermarkets, shops such as DIY stores, online video streaming services, and buy now pay later brands also saw a significant increase in the amount being spent and the number of transactions.

However, not all industries were so lucky to see an increase in spending. Spending change in some areas was significantly reduced.

What industries saw a decline in spending?

It may not come as a surprise but industries which included day and night out activities such as cinema and theatre tickets, music and gigs, restaurants and cafes (before the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was introduced) pubs, clubs and bars, all were hit significantly by both the UK’s lockdown and the pandemic. 

And while some industries are set to bounce back with Government help and an increase in spending – other sectors cannot be expected to bounce back so quickly.

What industries could need extra help recovering?

While the VAT suspension and the Eat Out to Help Out schemes have positively impacted businesses such as restaurants and bars, days out – especially companies and organisations in the arts such as theatres, cinemas and museums could do with extra help in hand.

Many venues such as the National Theatre and Andrew Lloyd Webber have done their best to both keep the public entertained while asking for donations to support theatres. Closures, social distancing measures and the six-person rule all appear not to be going anywhere anytime soon – which comes as another blow to the arts. 

What can we do to support struggling industries and businesses?

Obviously, not everyone is in a position to be able to help struggling businesses; however, if you do have the capacity, here’s just a few ways you can help:

  • Support your local businesses: instead of buying books from giants such as Amazon, why not try supporting local bookstores in your area that may need that bit of extra support during these times.
  • Treat yourself to a takeaway: purchase a takeaway as a treat once or twice a week to help support local businesses and don’t forget to tip your delivery driver!
  • Recommend businesses to friends and family: enjoyed a meal or liked a product you purchased? Tell your friends and family and get the word out about your positive experience.
  • Support businesses on social media and write reviews: if word of mouth to your friends and family isn’t enough – don’t forget to leave a positive review on social media or TrustPilot. Most people look at reviews before purchasing online and in-store so you’re doing your bit if you can leave a review!
  • Make a donation: many charities and businesses are doing their fair share of helping during the pandemic. They could do with a bit of extra support in the way of donations, and even a small donation can be a massive help to many. So many people have made big changes to their budgets and this spending change can leave charities struggling.
  • Be patient and understanding: ordered something, and it’s taking a little while to arrive? Whether it’s a takeaway, your food shopping or an online order – be patient. There’s an increase in demand for deliveries and services, meaning that things may take a little longer – so please be patient and kind. 

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