So, what are we spending our money on in Covidtime?

By Emily Thompson on Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Every week Teamspirit’s planning team comes together for a show and tell session on insight we think will impact our clients. From Greenpeace’s Green Recovery Manifesto to BrandZ’s report on the rising impact of brand trust. This week I shared Google’s Rising Retail Categories Tool, which is a goldmine for finding the fastest-rising retail categories, and mapping consumer trends.

If we look at the top three purchases this year it’s unsurprising that hand sanitisers and wipes, disposable gloves and protective masks top the ‘breakout’ list.

But in tracking the month-by-month trends an interesting story emerges, from which we can start to pull together a more nuanced picture of what the UK has been spending their money on since lockdown started to lift.

Just over a month ago we pulled the results and started to see people preparing for a very British summer. At that point (May) the 14-day quarantine was still in place for foreign travel, and pubs and restaurants were closed. We saw consumers rush to buy picnic baskets, blankets and golf accessories. And whilst this tells us the UK was transitioning to spend more time outside, what’s more revealing from these ‘outdoor’ purchase behaviours is that consumers are still looking to enjoy themselves, whilst abiding by the post-lockdown rules: meeting up in parks and gardens and enjoying solo or socially distanced sports activities.

Skorts (shorts that look like skirts, used by tennis players) were surprisingly number two on the breakout list. And while this might have more to do with the 90s fashion revival than amateur Wimbledon tournaments being re-enacted across the country, both give rise to a strong sense of nostalgia. And it’s unsurprising that consumers are reverting to nostalgic trends, as research has shown how reminiscence can “be a stabilising force in peoples’ lives, with the ability to liberate individuals from adversity.”

As we move through to June and July we start to see, alongside the relaxation of the rules, suitcases start to pop up in the top 10. Golf accessories remain a firm favourite and wetsuits, tents and GPS navigation systems climb into the charts with ‘portable showers and privacy enclosures’ topping the list. I can’t help but think that if Boris’s team were using the Google tool, they might have been able to predict – and prevent - a Bournemouth beach disaster.

What these trends tell us is, despite the ‘unprecedented’ circumstances, people’s need-states at this time are unchanged: we are still looking to have summer holiday experiences. And if budget airlines aren’t there to facilitate that we’ll stick to safe, stoic, and maybe even fashionable forms of fun.

So, even though Wimbledon and Glastonbury have been cancelled it looks like we’re going to keep calm, carry on and enjoy as best we can the Great British summer. Something we’ll be bearing in mind when devising messaging and positioning for clients over the next few months.