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UPDATED Coronavirus round-up: retail spending could hold up better in non-locked down Sweden, Hotel Chocolat plus insights into changing behaviour, and more

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We’re reporting on the effect of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic on the way UK shoppers buy – and on how retailers are responding to that changing behaviour. 

 This update comes as, as of May 4, 190,584 people have tested positive for coronavirus and 28,734 people have died following a positive Covid-19 test result. Over the previous day, 3,985 people tested positive and 288 people died following a positive test.

UK shoppers get comfortable with new ways of shopping and paying: study

Most UK shoppers (54%) have tried a new payment method since Covid-19 began while 21% have bought online for the first time, suggests Paysafe analysis. It says that 84% of consumers are thinking differently about how they make payments, while 43% of UK shoppers have bought more online because they can’t get to high street stores. Its Lost in Transaction study questioned 8,000 shoppers around the world and also found that 63% of UK respondents said they would use contactless payments more often short-term for health reasons, and 61% say they re happier doing so than before. One in 10 (12%) say they have used a digital wallet such as Skrill for the first time. 

Daniel Kornitzer, chief business development Officer at Paysafe, said: “Consumers are already adapting to challenges in purchasing and getting to grips with alternative payment methods. Both payment providers and retailers must adapt in line with the demands of consumers and the requirements of the situation. Ultimately, the change and improvements we make to digital commerce throughout this pandemic will pave the way for the future of both digital and in-store payments.”

Local shops become more popular in lockdown

Four in 10 (41%) of UK shoppers have used their local independent shops more often during the lockdown as they look to avoid the queues and crowds of supermarkets – cited by 54% of those now visiting their local shops, new analysis suggests. More than a third (36%) say they plan to carry on using those shops after lockdown, while 29% say they’ll continue to use local shops as they did before, according to a study, Shopping in a coronavirus world: how retail is evolving  from shopping comparison site, which questioned 2,000 UK adults at the end of March. 

Shoppers are also choosing to buy locally to support local businesses (46%), to reduce their need to travel (39%), to find items sold out in supermarkets (32%), while almost a quarter (24%) are doing so because they could not book an online delivery slot from a supermarket. However, 14% say they are using shops less in recent weeks, and 19% of those who are using them more often expect to return to normal afterwards. Generation X shoppers are using them particularly frequently, with 45% of this group buying more from these shops and 42% planning to use them more in future. But 23% of the silent generation are not leaving their homes to shop at all.  

Georgia-Rose Johnson, shopping expert at said: “The fact that local, independent shops appear to be experiencing a boom in both demand and support during the lockdown will play a vital role in keeping local economies alive. 

“It is an opportunity for these local shops to remind the community of the value and convenience they bring, and it seems this is being reciprocated by the high numbers of shoppers who want to support local business. A lot of people intend to continue giving regular custom to local shops, but the acid test will be when life eventually goes back to normal. Will this trend for local shopping continue or will the majority revert to relying on supermarkets?“

How lockdown shoppers are spending on non-essentials: study

Almost half of UK shoppers say they now have more cash available to buy non-essential items during lockdown. Car buying platform Carwow questioned more than 2,000 people and found that one in five had spent between £101 and £300 on non-essential items, and that 48% of Londoners admitted to shopping online in their working hours. Some 47% of those questioned said they had seen their disposable income increase – and 49% said they had not saved any extra money during self-isolation. Shoppers are looking for items in categories including clothing (22%), DIY (14%) homewares (12%) but are also looking ahead to when lockdown ends, with 6% browsing for a new car and 9% looking for post-lockdown holidays.

Vix Leyton, consumer expert at, said: “With so much extra time on our hands, it’s no wonder we’re turning to browsing, in the absence of other distractions. But alongside the small treats we remind ourselves we deserve because we’re not spending money out and about, it’s interesting to see people planning their post-lockdown future. Having a fixed end goal or purchase in mind is clearly helping people to cope with life in lockdown as we approach May and the third month indoors, while we all know this time is absolutely essential, we can still daydream about an escape to the sun or the freedom of a brand new car. ”

UK supermarket promotions still a third lower than they were in January 

Promotions at UK supermarkets are 35% lower than they were in January, according to analysis from Edge by Ascential. 

Analysts found that in January 26% of products were discounted, but that dropped to 13% on March 24, and only rose again, to 15%, on April 28. Levels of promotions remain 35% lower than they were in January. Availability of products fell fastest for rice (-5.9% on the previous week) and tinned pasta (-2.7%) in the week ending May 3. 

Chris Elliott, insight manager at Edge by Ascential, said: “Following the rising level of stockpiling in the last few months, it’s unsurprising that supermarkets have been cautious about increasing levels of promotions in a bid to control stock levels. From our recent analysis, we can see that some products still remain high in demand – such as tinned pasta – with the likes of rice and baked beans dropping in availability. However, some popular shelf stable products such as canned meats appear to have stabilised levels. Although this is promising, such fluctuation in stock level across various categories means it is highly likely to be quite some time until we see similar levels of promotions to those seen in January.”

HelloFresh reports fast rise in first quarter demand for meal kits during the pandemic

HelloFresh says customers have flocked to buy its meal kits during the coronavirus pandemic – and says customer numbers and meal deliveries both grew by more than 60% in the first quarter of its year. It’s now expecting full-year turnover to grow by as much as 55%. Read the full story here.

Sweden retail may benefit from decision not to lock down: analyst

Sweden is set to see its retail sales fall by as little as 0.4% as the country decided not to lock down its economy to defend against Covid-19, according to analysts. 

Global Data says the Nordic nation is set to be one of the better performing markets in Europe in 2020. 

Global Data retail analyst Emily Salter said: “Although retail spend in Sweden this year is now set to fall, in comparison to pre-Covid 19 forecasts when it was predicted to rise 3.2% it will outperform many other European countries that have closed non-essential retail stores for a number of weeks. Sweden will fare better than neighbour Denmark which, despite already starting to ease restrictions of its lockdown, is forecast to experience a 4.4% decline in its total retail spend in 2020.

Swedish shoppers, who have been asked to follow a voluntary social distancing approach, have not bought in the same way as usual, says Salter – and different sectors are expected to be affected in different ways. She says that while stockpiling has been low, shoppers have bought more long-life items including pasta and noodles so they don’t need to go out more than needed. 

Salter added: “Fashion is the sector that we expect to be the hardest hit as consumers lack events to get dressed up for, but this impact will be softer than in countries with enforced lockdown.”

How Covid-19 is changing the way shoppers buy

Three new studies suggest that shoppers will change the way they buy – and the way they use technology. EY suggests retailers should look ahead to the new shopping habits of post-coronavirus consumers, Accenture suggests shoppers will buy more sustainably, while shopping online for groceries more often, while Foolproof warns that shoppers may shy away from using touchscreens in stores and restaurants. Read the full story here

Shoppers plan to return only slowly to public places: study

Almost half of shoppers around the world say they will not return to shops “for some time” or “for a long time”, according to GlobalWebIndex research. Nearly 60% say they won’t go back to large outdoor venues such as sports stadiums or music festivals, while two-thirds are holding back from returning to cinemas, concert halls or sports arena. 

Respondents in the UK and US appear to believe they will weather the storm. However, more shoppers now say they have delayed a purchase than did in previous editions of the research. Categories where more shoppers say they have put off buying include clothing, home appliances, luxury items and holidays. Four in 10 Gen Z shoppers say they have halted a planned clothing purchase. 

Hotel Chocolat plans store reopenings – and taking business online quickly when needed

Hotel Chocolat is working out how to open its shops safely when it’s permitted to do so, following the Covid-19 lockdown, while planning for ways of shifting business online quickly when needed. Read the full story here

Image: Adobe Stock

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