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Huge shift emerging in leisure time plans

by | 22/03/2020

Public Health guidelines in the light of the COVID-19 crisis are leading to unprecedented changes in how households go about their lives in uncertain and worrying times.

Although many of the headlines over the weekend were about people not sufficiently following social distancing advice, our data show that a new reality is quickly hitting home. Over 9 in 10 UK households we interviewed in the past few days acknowledge that Government guidelines will significantly disrupt normal behaviour and change the way families use their leisure time.

What will people do with their leisure time?

From a list of possible activities, 6 in 10 households will take the opportunity to watch more TV and films at home. This appears to be a more popular choice amongst males.

Around one half will use the time to undertake more cleaning chores or read more books or magazines. These were more commonly selected amongst females. Although retailers such as Waterstones have taken the decision to close their physical stores, we expect consumers to turn to digital or eCommerce routes such as Amazon or HIVE.

Home improvements, DIY and Gardening

Over half of consumers stated that they intend to use this additional time to undertake a DIY or Gardening project. Specifically, 34% might see themselves undertaking more DIY activities and 39% out in the garden completing tasks.

The lucrative higher earning homeowner segment appear to be most likely to undertake DIY and gardening during this time (54%). Men in particular are more likely to say they will use their additional time in the garden.

Overall, this could result in 14 million households being activated to look for the products and materials they will need to carry out these DIY and gardening projects in coming weeks and months.

Eureka! estimate that this may actually be an understatement of potential demand, as we are still at an early stage of the pandemic and the realities of prolonged social isolation are yet to be realised.

What remains to be seen is whether the DIY and home improvement sector can rapidly innovate to meet this extra demand in the light of probable store closures. The key challenge for retailers however is obviously not knowing how the crisis will impact consumer economic confidence and spending behaviour.

We’ve seen marketing messages this weekend for instance promoting space-saving home office solutions from retailers such as Dunelm.

Home improvement retailers

Subject to stores remaining open or online fulfilments continuing, our data suggests that the biggest retail winners are set to be:

  • B&Q (54% would use this brand to purchase products or supplies over this period)
  • Wilko (48%)
  • B&M (39%)

More in-depth research is needed to understand the trade-offs that households will be making in the coming months with regards to “making ends meet” and “getting on with everyday life” against the backdrop of social distancing rules being made ever more stringent in most likelihood.

Dave Ruston, Director at Eureka! Research observes “Consumers told us that they plan to spend new-found time on a large range of activities including media consumption and cleaning. With 52% saying they might undertake DIY and Gardening projects, this is also an unprecedented trigger for householders to get around to those jobs they may have been putting off for years.”

See here for more about our work in the home improvement sector. If you would like to see more details about the research outlined in this article then please drop us a line.

The full results of the survey can be viewed here. The online survey was with a sample of 200 households in 17-20 March 2020.

Eureka! Research

The Mill | Radford Road | Alvechurch | Worcestershire | B48 7LD


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