Coronavirus changing UK’s shopping habits, survey reveals

A new weekly survey has revealed how UK consumers’ relationships with a range of sectors is “changing” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus UK Consumer Tracker from research firm Rare analysed in-store and online purchasing behaviour in the retail, grocery, DIY, beauty, entertainment and alcohol sectors.

Compiled from a survey of 1,000 UK-based residents, the survey looked at changes in consumers’ attitudes and habits across those sectors as well as revealing insights into the nation’s “changing emotions”.



  • Customers are still stockpiling – 13% of household decision-makers claim they are purchasing more items, more frequently
  • Others shop more consciously – 31% of decision-makers are buying fewer items and doing so less often
  • There has been a 33% decrease in online shopping as people battle it out for delivery slots

Other retail

  • 44% are spending less time buying white goods in-store along with a 35% reduction in white goods purchased online
  • 38% of people are buying fewer clothes online
  • 47% report buying fewer electronic items in-store this week with a reduction of 38% for online purchases


  • 48% have reduced their sports and exercise activities
  • 49% are watching more TV and/or movies streamed online with others
  • Relaxing wins over working out, with 48% reducing their sports and exercise activities and turning to ‘Netflix parties’ as a way of socialising
  • 49% of the UK population are listening to music more than usual, up by +8% since last week
  • 28% of people are spending more time playing games, including board games, over video chat with their friends
  • 52% of those aged 18 to 24 claim they are more likely to seek out content they are familiar with, compared to 37% who claim they are seeking out new content
  • 39% are spending more time doing crafts and hobbies
  • Nearly a third (29%) of 18- to 24-year-olds are buying more products relating to hobbies and interests online


  • 37% of those engaging with home management tasks say they are doing so more than usual
  • 60% have increased the amount they clean around the home
47% of 33- to 40-year-olds have increased baking


  • 25% of those aged 18 to 24 are spending more time than usual buying beauty products online
  • 24% of women report they are buying beauty treatments online less than usual
  • 28% of the UK population are seeking advice from a beautician online less than usual
  • 47% of those aged between 18 and 24 are seeking more inspiration online


  • 24% of people are trying fewer new alcoholic drinks
  • 25% reduction in people trying low-alcoholic drinks
  • 34% of 18 to 24s are less likely than before the pandemic to seek ideas for new alcoholic drinks that they have not tried before

Other findings

How are people in the UK feeling?

  • Worry is the lead emotion in the UK (52%) and has increased slightly since last week (+4%)
  • Women (55%) are more worried than men (48%)
  • 68% are concerned about their job security
  • Only 15% say they are happy or content

Are people shopping responsibly?

There is evidence that some people are still sweeping supermarket shelves to stock up on essential items, with 13% of household decision-makers claiming they are purchasing more items, more frequently

Do people feel connected to others?

  • 52% feel a sense of community spirit towards their local area
  • 50% of the UK population feel a global sense of community
  • 62% now feel closer to their family

Rare founder and CEO, Ben Pask, said: “People are tailoring their behaviour around the evolving state of the pandemic. The majority of consumers are worried about it and also concerned about their jobs. On the plus side, there is a stronger sense of community spirit in business, family life, social life and on a global scale.

“People are still socialising, just not in conventional ways. They are trying things like online streaming of games and movies in greater numbers. When the dust has settled and all of this is over, it will be interesting to see which new forms of communication and socialising stay, and which will be a distant memory.”

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