Lockdown one year on: UK shoppers see price hikes on most popular products

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With 23 March 2021 marking a year since the official start of lockdown in the UK, impartial price and product comparison site, PriceSpy, has examined UK shopping habits over the past year. This reveals UK shoppers have faced an average £21 price increase to manage the lockdown and maintain a sense of normality.  

The start of lockdown saw a scramble for webcams, with popularity rising by a huge 2065% as many looked for new ways to stay in touch with loved ones. This impacted pockets with an average £18 price increase. Similarly, the early lockdown baking and banana bread hype drove a 179% popularity increase in bread makers, leading shoppers to fork out on average an extra £32 compared to pre-lockdown prices. 

With gyms closing, health and fitness equipment has proved the big winner over the last year in terms of popularity, with increases seen across many items. Kettlebells proved the most popular overall, with a 2573% increase in popularity and a £7 average price increase since lockdown began on the 23rd March 2020. Other popular items included weight plates, showing a 2096% increase in popularity and treadmills 1130%.   

With lockdown closing bars and restaurants, Brits are looking to replicate the experience at home. Interest in beer dispensers over the last year has increased by 615%, with products on average £43 more expensive. Cookware sets have proved 536% more popular, as we cooked up a storm in our kitchens. Pizza ovens also showed a popularity increase of 322% coupled with a £67 price rise, while alfresco dining has seen an uptick, with patio heater popularity going up by a huge 3500% and prices by £20.   

When it came to personal care, we’ve also taken matters into our own hands. Interest in hair trimmers and clippers went up by 260% to manage our lockdown manes, while prices rose by £8. And as we sought to create a sanctuary at home, scented candles and fragrance sticks peaked at a huge 1933% increase in views.   

Product popularity increases between 23 March 2020 and 7 March 2021  

Item  Popularity   Average price increase  
Hand sanitisers  +2190%  -£13  
Kettlebells   +2573%   +£7  
Beer dispensers   +615%   +£43   
Hair trimmers and clippers   +260%   +£8  
Scented candles and fragrance sticks   +1933%   +£3   
Webcams   +2065%  +£18  
Pizza ovens   +322%  +£67  
Patio heaters   +3500%  +£20  
Bread makers   +179%  +£32  

*Data provided by PriceSpy platform  

Of course, where there are winners, there are also losers and these too are largely reflective of our sudden shift in lifestyle. With the Great British public encouraged to stay home, suitcases and bags took an 81% hit in interest. Sun cream was down 50%, and interest in winter sun also took a plunge, with a 71% reduction in interest in ski helmets.   

With arguably less opportunity to dress up, there were also trends around the products that help us make ourselves presentable. Interest in irons and steamers showed a 56% decrease as we switched to loungewear and Zoom-friendly pyjama bottoms, and false eyelashes dropped by 79%.   

Investment in key white good items, such as washing machines and tumble dryers also took a dip over the period, perhaps as consumers sought to tighten their belts as tougher economic conditions took hold.   

Product popularity decreases between 23 March 2020 and 7 March 2021  

Item  Popularity   
Suitcases and bags  -81%   
Ski helmets   -71%   
False eyelashes   -79%   
Suncream  -50%   
Irons & steamers  -56%   
Powerbanks   -65%   
Washing machines   -41%   

*Data provided by PriceSpy platform   

PriceSpy UK commercial director, Ossie Bayram, said: “Online platforms have become by far the most important outlet for securing a wide range of goods over the course of the last year, with “non-essential” shops closed for long periods of time.  

“There has been a 38% increase in shoppers using our platform since 23rd March 2020 and like the products on our site, this highlights the disparity in how the pandemic has affected consumers. With huge job losses, buyers have had to be more careful in their spending than perhaps has been seen since the last recession. At a time like this, impartial advice on getting the best value for money is key. But similarly, those who are fortunate enough to have secure jobs and have saved money by staying at home, have more disposable income than usual and more time to spend it.    

“Whatever a buyer’s situation or motivation, at a time when the online marketplace has become more competitive than ever, nobody needs or deserves to get ripped off. Taking time to carry out research into the best product and the best price, will always pay for itself.”   

Abbie Rendall, mum of two and PriceSpy’s best Super Saver, said: “It’s been a whole year now since the start of lockdown. Have your spending habits changed? Mine certainly have!    

“I have been comparing my spending habits before and during lockdown. Long gone are the days when I could nip to my local shops for the odd bits I needed. I was a regular at the shops in the market town where I live.   

“My online shopping has increased greatly. My go-to for most things now is definitely Amazon. Whereas I used to buy a lot of our non-essential items in store, I have done my best to limit going out as much as possible and so online shopping has become a daily occurrence. I took a look at my Amazon account for the Month of February 2019 and compared it with February 2020. In 2019 I spent £93.12 and in February 2020 it was £484.39; a massive increase of over 400%.    

“With regard to saving money, I do believe online shopping is the way forward. I don’t know anyone who has ever popped into B&M or Home Bargains for some toilet roll and not walked out with at least a basket (if not a trolly) of unnecessary goods. In comparison, you shop online for the things you need more than the things you want. You can check out best prices and read customer reviews from different online retailers in the comfort of your home, whilst drinking a coffee that hasn’t cost you £3.20! However, I hope when the world returns to normal we will all look after our local shops and businesses, which you really cannot put a price on.”