UK shift to local shopping could last beyond pandemic in high street boost

Independent shops

Small local grocery stores and online retailers are likely to benefit from permanent changes in shopping habits after a year of Covid-19 restrictions, according to a report one year on from the first lockdown.

More than nine in 10 of people who have shopped locally say they will continue to do so, a survey by Barclaycard has found.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers in the UK have chosen to buy closer to home in the past year, leading to a 63% rise in spending at specialist food and drink stores such as butchers, bakeries and greengrocers last month, the debit and credit card operator said.

Neighbourhood stores have been boosted by the shift to working from home and strengthened interest in supporting businesses that have kept communities going through hard times.

However, the trend for online shopping, which has piled pressure on high street retailers and city centres across the country in recent years, is also expected to continue.

Shoppers have received an extra two deliveries a month since March 2020 on top of an average of five before the pandemic. Half of consumers expect to continue with at least that number in future, and 10% expectto order more.

Trends for online grocery shopping, DIY meal kits and concierge-style services, whereby clothing is delivered to a home to be tried on with the courier waiting to take unwanted items back, are all expected to outlast the restrictions introduced because of the pandemic.

Tom Cheesewright, a consultant on future trends, said: “Echoes of this pandemic will be heard long after lockdown is lifted through a sustained shift in our buying behaviours. Changes we expected to happen over a decade have been condensed into a year.