Shopify reveals how pandemic has altered habits of UK shoppers

The purchasing habits of UK shoppers have changed dramatically since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from global e-commerce platform Shopify.

Skincare and alcohol were among categories that saw dramatic increases in sales as the country adjusted to spending more time at home than ever before. Without being able to stop at a café on the way to the office, coffee sales shot up 65% while tea sales grew by 38%. Many people also looked to enjoy their favourite tipple at home as pubs and bars were forced to shut their doors, with alcoholic beverage sales up 97% year-on-year. As banana bread fever gripped the nation, sales of cooking and baking ingredients rose 35% while sales in dog supplies shot up 37% as people looked for companionship from pets while not being able to spend time with family and friends.

However, time away from the office and social events has hit sales of more formal fashion items, with sales in shirts and tops tumbling 374%. Not surprisingly, with many summer holidays cancelled as a result of the pandemic, swimwear sales sank by 76% year-on-year. There was also a 22% drop in barware sales as the hospitality industry remained closed for much of the year while the shutting of gyms resulted in activewear sales falling 68%. 

Shimona Mehta, managing director (EMEA) at Shopify, said: “The past year has been one of immense change and we have all had to adjust to spending more time at home. That has been reflected in what we are buying as we’ve looked for ways to unwind at home, whether that’s with a G&T or an at-home facial, as well as adapting to using the same space as an office and classroom.

“As we look ahead to life after lockdown, what we buy will evolve once again, but the way we shop has been changed significantly by the pandemic, which has accelerated trends that were already in train. Effectively, 2030 has arrived early and shoppers are more aware and connected than ever before. They expect more from the brands they buy from, and the brands that recognise that will be those not just survive but thrive.”

In the past year, Shopify has seen high growth in the UK market with the number of new store creations on the platform increasing 116% vs. 2019. Some of the UK’s fastest growing brands use Shopify’s all-in-one commerce platform to sell online, from high-growth companies such as Gymshark, All Birds and Lounge, as well as the next generation of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Data is based on insight from over 100,000 merchants across the UK between March 2020 and February 2021

Top 10 products based on products’ total order volumes (UK)
lotion & moisturiser109.2%
alcoholic beverages96.7%
sweets & chocolate48.7%
tea & infusions38.3%
facial cleansers37.9%
dog supplies37.3%
cooking & baking ingredients35.0%
Flop 10 products based on products’ total order volumes (UK)
shirts & tops-373.9%
mobile phone cases-103.9%
jumpsuits & rompers-28.8%
water bottles-21.3%