UK’s stay-at-home shopping habits equate to £12.9bn annual shift in spending

The “isolation economy” as people have remained at home has triggered a shift in consumer spending habits equating to £12.9 billion annually, analysis has found.

This change is largely due to UK adults’ increased spending on four key “at home” sectors – groceries, alcohol, entertainment and hobbies and crafts – during the lockdown, according to the research from Legal & General and economics consultancy Cebr (Centre for Economics and Business Research).

Despite the £12.9 billion shift in where money is being spent, UK households have been spending less money generally, equating to a fall in expenditure of £215 billion per year, the research found.

People who are still in employment were found to be spending an average of £107 a week on groceries, alcohol, entertainment and hobbies – a 10% increase compared with pre-lockdown levels.

On average, adults spend £73.69 per week on grocery shopping.

Overall, across the UK this represents a 9% rise among all adults, and a 14% increase for those who have had no changes to their salary or employment status as a result of Covid-19, the report found.

This increase in spending has also largely been driven by those aged between 35 to 54, who are spending £89.94 per week on groceries. Under-35s spend £56.90 on average while over-55s spend £70.94 per week typically, the research found.

Nigel Wilson, chief executive at Legal & General, said: “The isolation economy is a new feature of our daily lives and now encompasses some £13 billion a year of the consumer economy.

“As the hub of the isolation economy, the home is becoming a more flexible space, doubling up as a place for schooling, work, fitness and entertaining – and we can expect changes to the way we think about and design homes for future home owners.”

The research also suggests adults are dedicating 20 minutes more each week to fitness typically compared with before the crisis and two hours 22 minutes more each week watching TV, streaming programmes and gaming.

The report also found that more than two-thirds (69%) of people plan to continue cooking more meals at home longer term.

Nearly a fifth (19%) of those who have used their time in lockdown to take up a language or educational class intend to keep this up longer term.

Shops in local communities may also benefit from people’s changed habits, with 60% of people planning to buy more products in local stores to help the local economy in the longer term.

More than half (58%) of people said they would be willing to pay more for products that have been made in Britain, rather than imported from overseas.