COVID-19: Brits turn to corner shops for essentials

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
April 17, 2020, 1:45 PM UTC

Brits are making fewer trips to all types of food stores, but nearly a quarter say they’ve shopped more in corner shops since the lockdown

YouGov research shows that while over a third of Brits have shopped less frequently at their local corner shop since the lockdown came into effect three weeks ago, 23% have in fact used it more.

This is the largest uptick among all the shop types in the survey. The figures seem to support news reports of Brits turning to corner shops as supermarkets struggle to keep up with increased demand as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The second largest increase is in online groceries delivery despite many supermarkets turning new customers away. One in six Brits (16%) have bought groceries online more frequently since the lockdown, while a quarter have done it less than they normally would. This is the smallest net difference (-8) in the survey.

Supermarkets see the largest drop, with 61% of Brits saying they’ve been less frequently since the lockdown. Only one in eleven shoppers (9%) say they’ve made more trips than they otherwise would.

Two in five people (40%) also say they’ve used takeaway food services less while 9% have ordered takeaway food more often in the past three weeks.

Londoners’ habits differ to the rest of Britain

Londoners are more likely than other Brits to say they’ve shopped more frequently at various food stores and services. A quarter of people in the capital have had more takeaways since the lockdown than they normally would, compared with only 8% of other Brits – the largest difference across the categories.

One in six Londoners (16%) have shopped more at food markets since the lockdown, while among other Brits this figure is only 3%.

A higher number of people in the capital have also bought groceries online more frequently (24% of Londoners versus 14% of other Brits), shopped at supermarkets (18% versus 8%) and visited speciality food stores (10% versus 3%).

The only instances with little or no difference are ordering alcohol online (6% versus. 5%) and visiting the butcher or fishmonger more often (both 6%).  

Brits are generally less satisfied with their experiences of shopping online

People who have ordered groceries or alcohol online since the lockdown report a mixed experience, as supermarkets struggle to keep up with the increased demand.

Over half of online grocery shoppers (54%) say their experience of getting the items they wanted was negative while 40% say it was positive. A slightly higher number are also dissatisfied with the time spent queueing online (41% positive/46% negative), while the reactions to delivery speed similarly are mixed (47% positive/42% negative).

Online deliverers do well on precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Three quarters of customers (75%) say their experience of this was positive, while 6% say it was negative.

Brits who have shopped in supermarkets since the lockdown are generally more content. But many have also struggled to get the items they needed, with 39% saying they had a negative experience while a small majority were content (57%).

Despite many supermarkets enforcing one-in-one-out policies, a majority of British shoppers (72%) say their experience of queueing since the lockdown has been positive, while 24% say it has been negative.

Supermarket customers are happy with the measures stores are taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus (84% positive versus 12% negative). But over a third say their experience of other shoppers respecting social distancing rules has been negative.

See the full results here