“Good food. Luxurious pyjamas. Presents for friends. Skincare. Bed linen. Fancy chocolate.” We asked friends and colleagues what they’re spending their cash on during quarantine, and the answer is clear: sweet treats and small indulgences are parting us from our cash like never before.
Lockdown has changed almost every aspect of our lives; it's no surprise that it's shifted our spending habits too. Are you curious about which businesses are thriving during these strange times? We take a look at the sectors that are succeeding during lockdown, and which businesses might boom in the post-lockdown world too.
Bicycles, baking and boutique beers: what are we spending money on right now?
"During lockdown I've been feeding myself like a spoilt child sovereign, baking a never-ending succession of indulgent puddings” says writer and journalist Gwendolyn. I've bought such large quantities of posh dark chocolate to make treats that I'm amazed my corner shop hasn't accused me of stockpiling. (If you've encountered a shortage of Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa recently, it's probably my fault.)”
“Now that we can’t eat out, I’ve been buying ingredients to make restaurant-style meals at home” says Jonas. “Having more time on my hands has given me a chance to research the best brands”. Like Jonas, over half of us are spending more time cooking or baking. And as many of us struggle with stress and anxiety, we’re giving ourselves permission to reach for pricey premium products.
“I've become greedy for kitchenware” says Gwendolyn, “I’m spending lunch breaks researching madeleine baking trays.” Gwendolyn’s far from alone: sales of flour, butter and baking equipment are through the roof. If you haven’t been baking banana bread, were you really in lockdown?
Nights out in bars and restaurants may be a thing of the past, but Zoom happy hour has more than made up for it. Wine, beer and spirits sales are up by almost a third. Not only are we buying more booze overall, but many of us are choosing more premium drinks. “I’ve slashed my overall spending, so when I do buy alcohol I’m splashing cash on boutique beers from microbreweries” says Ryan.
“I’m nervous about running too close to people on footpaths and in the park right now” says Rosie. “Cycling feels like the best way to stay active without getting too close to anyone.” It’s no surprise that sales of bikes have soared. And after lockdown, cycling seems set to increase. “I’m not in a hurry to get back on my overcrowded commuter train” says Paul. “Cycling is cheaper and healthier, buying my own bike has been a great investment.”
Knitting – once strictly for octogenarians and the WI - has moved from edgy to mainstream. Even jigsaws have made a not-so-puzzling return: “They’re not just for old people” says Sam in Edinburgh. “I used to only try them on rainy holidays, but now I’m desperate for something to do in the evenings when I can’t stand yet another Zoom call.”
Books & book subscriptions
“A new book each month from my subscription box – do I really need it in my life? Perhaps not. But it’s bringing me so much joy” says Neda in Glasgow.
“I’m not shelling out for super expensive brands, but I have got into high-quality, affordable brands like The Ordinary, because I had really bad lockdown skin” says Ciara in Stockport. While stress and lifestyle changes may be causing carnage for our complexions, there’s also a soothing benefit to new routines. “I use my skincare routine to wind down before bed, so I’m starting to sleep a bit better.”
Life after lockdown
As the UK economy begins to open up, the post-lockdown period looks set to strain almost every sector. But not ever business should be pessimistic. Here are a couple of sectors that look set to succeed.
When times get tough, we all want a boost. Sweet treats are so popular during downturns that some economists have dubbed chocolate ‘recession proof.’
Gyms may reopen, but a lot of former gym-goers won’t have the cash to keep up their memberships. Affordable online subscription services could reap the rewards.
DIY & repairs
Tight household budgets mean mending and making do, not just chucking things out as soon as they get old. Plus, when staying in is the new going out, those little repairs we’ve been ignoring become harder to avoid.
Food and beverages
When we tighten our belts during a recession, restaurant meals are one of the first things to go. Think fewer bank-breaking tasting menus, more M&S meal deals at home.
Crises causes creativity
‘The Great Lockdown’ may spell bad news for many businesses, but it’s not all doom and gloom. When resources are tight, we innovate and adapt. Every crisis can spur creativity, so perhaps it’s time we started forecasting a ‘reset’, not a recession?