Shoppers turn to beer and cigarettes to get through lockdown


A lockdown booze and barbecue bonanza saw shoppers splash £2.5billion more on alcohol and meats this year, according to a study of 2020’s fastest-growing products revealing how coronavirus has overhauled Britain’s buying habits. 

An extra £791million was spent on lager alone, with sales of Stella Artois, San Miguel and the aptly-named Corona among the biggest risers. 

Tobacco and cigarette sales also boomed by almost £1billion, according to The Grocer magazine’s annual Top Products ranking. 

But £300million was wiped off the personal care market as the new age of working from home saw people increasingly let themselves go.

Cosmetics, hair styling, deodorant and even toothbrushes suffered the biggest sales declines. 

Rachel White, retail intelligence leader at Nielsen, which co-carried out the analysis, said: ‘It’s been a rollercoaster year for grocery retail. The pandemic has shifted consumer shopping habits to the extreme.’

A lockdown booze and barbecue bonanza saw shoppers splash £2.5billion more on alcohol and meats this year, according to a study of 2020’s fastest-growing products revealing how coronavirus has overhauled Britain’s buying habits (graph, excluding tobacco)

An extra £791million was spent on lager alone

£183million was wiped off cosmetics

An extra £791million was spent on lager alone, while £183million was wiped off cosmetics (file photos)

And the products with the biggest decline in sales… 

Cosmetics – £182.8m (-22.0%)

Bottled Water -£148.5m (-13.3%)

Chilled Ready Meals -£74.2m (-3.6%)

Juice, Juice Drinks & Smoothies -£50.2m (-2.9%)

Gum -£48.3m (-18.2%)

Deodorants -£47.1 (-9.8%)

Styling -£37.5 (-17.5%)

Cereal bars -£36.1 (-7.5%)

Sugar confectionery -£29.8 (-2.7%)

Toothbrushes -£28.5 (-9.9%)

Pub and restaurant closures from March to July, and again in November, fuelled a dramatic shift in shopping habits this year, with lager the fastest-growing item.

Sales of Stella Artois grew by £105million, followed by San Miguel up £92million, Budweiser up £73million and Mexican brand Corona up £68million.

Wine and spirits also saw impressive gains of £717million and £567million respectively. 

The widespread mothballing of the nation’s hospitality sector further sparked a home-cooking frenzy, and families ‘taking the roast dinner in-house’ drove sales of meat up £438million.

Ms White said: ‘With more free time at home, consumers moved away from chilled ready meal options and focused instead on creating their own dining experience at home, cooking with fresh ingredients and enjoying a drink at home rather than at the pub.’  

These changing habits saw beef sales climb by £161million compared to last year, followed by sausages which rose by £126million and chicken, up £120million. This correlated with a £74.2million slump in sales of ready meals. 

But the switch from ready meals to healthier alternatives was not reflected in the tobacco market, where sales rose by £972million – £683million being rolling tobacco.

Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, said: ‘A surprising trend we’ve seen this year is the rise in tobacco sales, and while some of those extra sales reflect the lack of foreign travel and duty-free purchases, it’s a step change from previous years.’

Beef sales climb by £161million compared to last year, followed by sausages which rose by £126million and chicken, up £120million

Beef sales climb by £161million compared to last year, followed by sausages which rose by £126million and chicken, up £120million

Tobacco sales rose by £972million - £683million being rolling tobacco

Tobacco sales rose by £972million – £683million being rolling tobacco

Personal appearance products overwhelmingly dominate the fastest-falling items, as Britons were told to work from home where possible.

In March, Boris Johnson told nation to work from home where possible, ushering in an era of Zoom meetings from offices-cum-kitchens.

Combined with the mandatory wearing of face masks, it inadvertently took a sledgehammer to sales of cosmetics.

Make-up sales tumbled £183million, followed by deodorants down £47million, hair styling down £38million and toothbrushes down £29million. 

Another side-effect of working from home was a drop in sales of ‘on-the-go’ items such as bottled water and cereal bars. 

Mr Leyland said: ‘As many consumers are leading a more sedentary and more isolated lifestyle as a result of the coronavirus, not only have sales of cosmetics have fallen but many other personal care items too, including deodorants and toothbrushes. In our care for hygiene, we’ve perhaps forgotten to care for ourselves.’

Ms White added: ‘Reduced interactions and events, coupled with the wearing of face masks in public places has meant that the cosmetics category became one of the fastest falling categories of 2020. 

‘We also saw declining sales for products consumers would normally purchase on the go, such as bottled water or confectionary. 

‘But with the first roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine underway, there is renewed hope of a return to some kind of normality and we will be keeping a close eye on how these shopping behaviours evolve.’  

Flower sales boom during lockdown… with ‘love you’ the most written message

The coronavirus crisis led to a boom in flower deliveries in 2020 as Britons missed seeing family and friends, new data reveals.

Interflora says their sales peaked during key moments of the pandemic when people wanted to send messages to loved ones.

The flower delivery company analysed 100,000s of message cards sent with their bouquets between January and November 2020 and found that the overwhelming reason Brits sent flowers was to say ‘I love you’ – making up 44 per cent of all deliveries.

Bouquets sent with a ‘missing you’ card peaked in April and then May – during the first national lockdown – while flowers sent with a ‘stay strong’ message peaked in October as at the crisis continued and the UK braced itself for at least another four weeks indoors.

The data also revealed that from April 2020 ‘Just Because’ entered into the top five reasons for flowers to be sent, and remained there until October.

This sentiment did not appear in the top five in 2019 at all, suggesting that these flowers were sent for to boost mood and morale during difficult times.

The peak of ‘cheer you up’ flowers was in April, as the nation started to feel the full effect of lockdown and were in need of a pick-me-up. 

The most flowers were sent in March and sales peaked again in October, when a second lockdown was announced.

Then flowers sent for reasons such as ‘loneliness’, to ‘stay strong’ and ‘thinking of you’ soared to their highest peaks of the year.

The top 10 sentiments expressed on message cards sent with flowers in 2020 were:

1. Love you

2. Miss you

3. I’m sorry

4. Cheer you up

5. Just Because

6. Get well

7. Hope

8. Strength

9. Excitement / Anticipation

10. Sadness 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk