DIY, garden and pet shops see transactions surge as impact of COVID-19 is revealed


The retail industry has seen its biggest shock this century, as Coronavirus spreads globally.

On 23 March, the UK Prime Minister announced a national ‘lock down’, which meant the closure of all non-essential retailers. 

Ahead of this announcement, Paymentsense analysed their latest card transaction data to see the real effect the pandemic is having on high stress across the country.

Aside from our toilet roll hoarding, the data has revealed some interesting  psychological trends about what we’re buying in the foray of panic.  

Panic buying for pets

Despite the government urging consumers to refrain from ‘stock-piling’, some industries have seen a staggering increase in sales over the past few weeks.

Perhaps the most surprising industry to see an uplift is pet supply stores. They saw an uplift of almost 50%, as people prepare for lockdown with their fluffy companions. 

Alternatively, this new surge in pet supplies could be explained by an increase in the number of people actually buying pets, to keep themselves entertained during isolation periods. 

This is perhaps unsurprising, given that 80% of current pet owners state that their pet makes them feel less lonely. 

UK gets green fingered

With the focus turning to the home, garden store sales have seen a rise of more than a third (39%), as people turn to the outdoors as an escape from their WFH routine.

With the lockdown coinciding with sunnier weather and the clocks going forward next weekend, it appears Brits are planning on using their time at home to improve their gardens.

Bike shop sales soar 24%

Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister announced that people may only go outside for one type of exercise per day. As a result, bike shop sales have experienced a 24% uplift as both keen cyclists and amateurs are fixing their old bikes or buying new ones, in an effort to keep active.

DIY sales surge

As some Brits prepare for up to 12 weeks of self-isolation, DIY and home supply stores have seen a huge 47% increase in sales compared to last week. 

Where people may be preparing for an extended period at home, many consumers may be turning to DIY and home improvements to keep themselves occupied. 

Contactless limit to be increased

With Europe increasing the contactless spend limit, the UK is about to follow suit from next week. The limit will increase from £30 to £45 in a bid to stop people using cash for transactions, inline with the WHO’s guidance. 

Data suggests that three key industries could benefit from this in the long-term [Table 1]. The average transaction value for retail, cleaning/laundry and personal services (i.e. beauty, salons) is above £30, but below £45. The increase in contactless limit will see these industries feel the benefit from an easier payment transaction both now and in the future. pandemic.

Scale of overbuying revealed

As reported, supermarkets have also seen an incredible increase of 52% in sales. While some consumers have been criticised for overbuying certain products, this is indicative of a large proportion of the country now working-from-home, preparing meals that would likely be bought outside the home. 

With 50 million Brits eating out in the UK each year, the closure of restaurants, cafés and brasseries has also had a ripple effect. These diners will be seeking to buy more from supermarkets, and the industry saw sales plummet by 21% from last week’s figures, and a further decline is expected over the coming weeks.

Jon Knott Head of Market Insights at Paymentsense commented: “We’re a nation of diners. In fact, our Restaurant Insights Report released earlier this year found that yearly 50 million adults eat out in Great Britain, with three-quarters of us doing so at least once a month.”

“As people aren’t able to dine out and they’re preparing for a 3-week isolation period, we’ve seen the likes of retail spend in butchers and local grocers increase by 50% vs. an average week.”

“Local grocers have also seen an increase in their average transaction value by 20%, as more people are stock-piling. We expect this trend to continue, if not increase, and essential retail to remain the biggest spend for consumers.”