Britain through the lockdown

Thursday 7 May 2020

John Lewis and Waitrose Report reveals how the nation’s behaviour has changed including the rise of:

  • Homemade ‘happy hour’ - people recreating bar experiences at home and trying new cocktails 
  • Return of the hobby - embracing nostalgic and traditional hobbies such as sewing, crafting, knitting, gardening and baking
  • DIY Beauty Salons - demand for laser hair removal products, manicure sets, face masks and massagers as the nation recreates beauty treatments at home
  • Meal planning - making the most of store cupboard ingredients and trying new cuisines. But also a rise in snacking
  • A shift in shopping habits - move to online, bigger trolley shops in stores, and browsing for toys in the evening to keep children entertained during lockdown 

A new report reveals how the nation has lived, eaten and shopped during the last six weeks - since lockdown was enforced on 24th March. 

Day to day life for Brits across the UK has been transformed as we’ve adapted to new ways of living - whether working from home, keeping children entertained, planning for meals, keeping in touch with loved ones, or feeling a renewed sense of community despite social distancing.

Findings are based on new OnePoll research of 2000 representative UK adults, combined with sales data and online searches from the two retailers, and insight from  expert Partners. They include:

What we’ve been doing at home

  • 51% of people have been choosing to spend increased time with loved ones cooking and baking together
  • 44% have been doing more exercise at home with Joe Wicks inspiring the nation 
  • Self care has also extended to beauty regimes and skincare sales are up 183% while facial masks and hair treatments are up 187%
  • Rising trend in video calls has seen customers investing in colourful makeup palettes, up 57% and self-tanning products have risen 41% 
  • The warm weather has seen 43% of us doing more gardening 
  • 39% of us have been spending our time playing traditional board games
  • A growing number of people are making their own protective face masks driving sales of elastic up 1430%
  • The nation’s love of haberdashery is stronger than ever with high demand for sewing machines, needlepoint and knitting yarn 
  • Popular buys during lockdown include:
    • Landlines +80% 
    • Tequila +175%
    • Decorative bedding +130%
    • Kimchi +43%

What we’ve been eating and drinking

  • 45% of us say we’ve eaten differently during lockdown, including:
    • Half have worked harder to use store cupboard ingredients and not waste food
    • 38% have snacked more
    • 19% are sitting at the table together for more meals
    • 31% have been more organised, making lists and meal planning
  • 26% say we’ve cooked more unusual meals. searches for cuisines including Japanese and Thai food have all seen big increases
  • And despite the weather many of us have enjoyed ‘comfort food’ at home, with recipe searches up 44%
  • 27% of us have taken part in virtual social group activities, including:
    • 37% have had a ‘pub quiz’
    • 20% have had a cocktail or drinks party
    • 20% have eaten dinner ‘with’ friends or family
    • 9% have had a virtual date
  • Of those who drink alcohol, 25% are drinking more since lockdown and 21% are drinking less. 
  • Tequila sales have soared 175% as people look to create a party atmosphere, and liqueurs are up 78% as people try new cocktails and drinks at home

How we’ve shopped - Britain through the lockdown timeline

  • From toilet roll, rice, landline phones and freezers in week one, to pasta machines and wine in week three and gardening tools in week four - what has topped our shopping lists each week
  • Basket sizes doubled in week two when Waitrose brought social distancing measures into place in its shops, while total customer numbers and shopping frequency fell to lower than the same period in 2019
  • By week three, more than a quarter of customers had not used the service in at least the last year. shopping patterns changed as the lack of a commute saw purchases spread throughout the day, although with a slight dip at 5pm as people tuned in for the Government briefing 
  • By week four, searches for toys and books on started to spike at 8:30pm as parents looked for ways to keep children entertained
  • In week five, full trolley shops were up 56% at Waitrose compared to the same week last year. Single, meal-focused shops were down over 70%. saw customers putting more items in their shopping baskets per shop to streamline deliveries
  • By week six, the average weight of a order was 30% higher than usual, and included 49% more items

Life as lockdown eases 

Experts predict what might have changed long-term, including:

  • A move to online - shopping and experiences
  • Creating restaurant experiences at home
  • A focus on getting fit and staying well
  • Supporting British producers
  • Changes to what we’ll want to wear
  • A shared sense of community and local responsibility



  • Data throughout the Report is from OnePoll research, conducted on behalf of Waitrose and John Lewis, April 2020, completed by 2000 nationally representative UK adults. Supported with sales data from Waitrose and John Lewis, and online search statistics.


About the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK and amongst the largest in the world, with over 80,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. For all intents and purposes, the Partnership is a social enterprise; the profits made are reinvested into the business - for customers and Partners. John Lewis & Partners operates 50 shops across the UK (36 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service,, as well as specialist online shops including for wine and for plants and flowers.