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May 7, 2020
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From sewing machines to sports shoes: Britain’s Covid-19 shopping habits

Published
May 7, 2020

Sportswear, face masks and sewing kits. These are some of the items Britons have been buying during the Covid-19 lockdown to cope with the evolving environment around them, according to a new John Lewis report.


John Lewis


The department store commissioned market research firm OnePoll to survey 2,000 UK adults in April 2020 to explore how the nation’s behaviour changed during the pandemic. The findings were combined with sales data and online search statistics to reveal the key trends defining non-essential retail last month.

Active lifestyles

From online yoga classes to Joe Wicks' 9am workouts, it’s interesting that 44% of Britons have been doing more exercise at home. This fuelled a 72% uplift in sales of sport shoes at John Lewis, as well as high demand for training gear, smart watches and wireless headphones. 

The department store said its website also registered strong interest for casualwear and nightwear, and it expects these categories to continue thriving as lockdown eases.

DIY beauty salons



With beauty parlours and barbers closed across the country, customers have started spending more time on their self-care routines. Sales of skincare products have soared by 183% while face masks and hair treatments are up 187%. 

Men are also taking matters into their own hands, driving a four-fold increase in male grooming products. Meanwhile, hair removal technology is up nearly eight times, and John Lewis’s sister brand Waitrose reported a 149% jump in hair dye sales.

In a bid to streamline deliveries during the crisis, JohnLewis.com customers have also started putting more items in their shopping baskets per shop.


John Lewis


Traditional Hobbies



With more time on our hands, it’s no surprise that many shoppers have turned to traditional hobbies, such as sewing and knitting. John Lewis said it has seen “unprecedented” demand for haberdashery items including sewing machines and knitting yarn. Could this herald a new era of more DIY fashion brands like Wool and the Gang and a shift towards slow fashion?

Beyond the particular sales data, the John Lewis report sheds some light on the consumer trends that are here to stay. According to the department store, more people will continue to use online shopping once the lockdown is lifted, whether through convenience or because they seek minimal-contact ways to live. There will also be a rise in virtual experiences, such as the retailer’s free online nursery, home and styling services. Finally, the company sees no end in sight to the nation’s love affair with comfortable clothes.

“The needs of the nation's wardrobes have changed,” said Jo Bennett, head of womenswear buying at John Lewis.

“We understand that comfort has been a key priority for our customers at this time. Casualwear, athleisure and nightwear have all seen high demand and we expect to see these areas continue to grow in popularity as we spend more time at home.”

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