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Life in Lockdown – How Much Can Things Really Change in Two Weeks?

Posted by    |   April 24th, 2020   |   No Comments

Since the public health measures were brought in last month, we have all experienced significant changes to our daily lives. From the initial closure of schools and colleges to the subsequent closure of bars, restaurants and many other workplaces to the social distancing measures in place in the supermarkets and other essential services that remain open, we have all had to adapt to a new way of living in recent weeks and settled into new routines.

Customer Perceptions surveyed 412 shoppers across Ireland on how the lockdown has impacted on their routines and the changes that have occurred in their households over the last few weeks. The results show an expected increase in some ‘bad’ habits, in that most of us are eating more, spending more time on social media and watching way more TV, however, this is counterbalanced by some positive changes in areas such as exercise, reading and communications, indicating that we could end up with just as many good habits at the end of all of this.

What are we doing more of?
65% TV/Streaming Services
60% Social Media
57% Eating
54% Cooking/Baking
48% Web Browsing
46% Calling Family & Friends

While the increase in social media usage and calls to family & friends would be expected under social distancing, it was interesting to note the popularity of video communication apps, with four-in-five now using these regularly. Of these, 85% stated they were using video communication apps to communicate with family/friends and 41% using the apps for work purposes. There also seems to be a potential changing of the guard as some of the newer/less known apps gained ground on their more established competitors, with an additional 30% using Zoom regularly that hadn’t used it previously and 15% more on House Party, while others lost users.

TV/Streaming Services:
As many of us are stuck at home for large parts of the day, the increased TV viewing (65%) would be expected. However, while news and current affairs programmes on terrestrial TV channels have experienced an upturn in viewership, other programming (particularly sports) is suffering and this impacted subscription services. Of the 16% cancelling subscriptions, over two-thirds related to satellite tv packages. Conversely, of the 32% with new subscriptions there was a shift towards online streaming services as Disney + led the way, accounting for 70% of these.

Health & Exercise:
Unsurprisingly, we are eating more and a significant contributor to this is snacking, with one-in-three snacking more since the lockdown began, somewhat understandable given that for many of us we are spending a lot more time in close proximity to the cupboards at home. However, only 7% have increased the amount of takeaways/meal deliveries in recent weeks, a figure dwarfed by the 54% who are cooking/baking more and 51% who are cooking new foods, with curries leading the way. Over one third of respondents (35%) confirmed that they are exercising more and technology is playing a greater role with gyms and other facilities closed and Yoga is the most popular exercise for those using online training resources.

What have we been buying other than groceries in the last fortnight?
With all except the essential retailers like supermarkets and pharmacies being closed in recent weeks, there has been an inevitable increase in online shopping activity among respondents (25%) as it is no longer feasible to purchase certain items locally. However, online shoppers have experienced difficulty in sourcing the items they want, with 54% reporting this issue. The most popular categories for online purchases in recent weeks were:
Clothing & Footwear (38%)
Cosmetic/Skincare items (26%)
DIY/Gardening Equipment (21%).

What about shopping for groceries?
More than half (54%) of those surveyed were doing their grocery shopping once a week, with another third doing it several times a week. Despite the grocery shopping experience changing dramatically in recent weeks, in-store shopping is still significantly ahead of online, with 81% of respondents shopping solely in-store compared with 7% solely online. A big driver for this is the availability of slots, with over half (54%) experiencing difficulties and 41% having a wait of more than two weeks for a slot.

In the main, the in-store experience has not been as negatively impacted as might have been expected and queuing times have been managed very well with over half (54%) waiting for less than five minutes or having no wait at all on their most recent grocery shopping experience, including 30% who gained entry in less than sixty seconds. The measures have had a positive impact on the checkout experience, with just over three quarters (74%) spending less than five minutes waiting at the tills.

Thank you:
These are extraordinary times and we are all adapting to new ways of living and new experiences as consumers. Traditional retail and the hospitality sector may never be the same again and at the very least we will have to adapt to the new restrictions and policies being in place for a long period. However, while many things change, the customer experience and the customer’s viewpoint will always matter. Thank you to everyone who took part in this survey. In our next survey, we will be looking at what changes you see happening in terms of retail, post lockdown and post Covid-19.

By Ronan Cassidy

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