Covid Removes £158 Billion Impulse Spending From UK Economy

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By Sarah Glover, Creative Director at Leagas Delaney

In the glory days of our previous life (i.e. February), the average fritterer would stop by the coffee shop on the way to work. Swing by the skincare counter after lunch. Pursue sales bins. Pop-out for a mid-afternoon snack. Buy a book from a shop window. And always walk away with one or two extras.

I know this because she was me and most of the people I know. Back in 2019, I could go out for a tee shirt and come home with a washing machine, or vice versa.

As of April 2019, 88.6% of Americans and 78.4% of Brits admitted to impulse shopping. That adds up to a $1.56 trillion-a-year industry, £158 Billion of which is in the UK.

So does that mean all that money is sitting around in our pockets, burning a hole?

Imagine that.

Now, the longer we go without spending in stores, the more impulse buying has become a distant memory. Even as businesses started reopening in June, we’ve changed our priorities and challenged our spending habits.

A socially distanced shopping experience together with the threat of being part of the biggest rise in redundancy since the 1930s hardly meets the right conditions for the ‘lipstick effect,’ which is usually found after economic downturns.

It’s as if retail therapy has gone the way of non-sanitized hands and group hugs. And it’s been replaced by Brooklyn 99 and Schitt’s Creek, but what happens once we finish Season 6?

As a brand, if you believe we are all in this together, it’s time to show that big and loud and often.

Brands must step it up and make sure they are the thing I have in mind as I step outside my front door because they can no longer count on being the thing I discover as part of my larger shopping addiction.

In the UK alone, people will be saving on average £8,638 by the end of 2020.

Nowadays, for me to gather my bag of now-normal essentials (mask, sanitizer, courage) and potentially endanger future contact with vulnerable family, a brand or store has to show me I am special. They must want me there as much as I want to be there. Offer me hand sanitizer at the door, empathize so much that they place my necessities near the entrance, and discount them, or offer Friends & Family Plans, or family meal deals until 6pm to the local community.

Sales and discounts are set to be the biggest driving factor of Christmas purchases in late 2020 and almost one-third of UK based shoppers plan to alter when they make a purchase in order to save more money.

After a challenging time, we all lean on things that make us feel good, things that make us feel comfortable and safe. And 2020 is challenging to say the very, very least.

Right now, I’m looking for the brands that will become my new comfort food, brands that will lift me up when I’m feeling claustrophobic and lost (daily), and brands that will become the things I feel entitled to after all I’ve been through.

As a Class-A fritterer, I will fritter again. All the fritters of the world will. We are aching for that bit of normalcy.

Be the brand that gets me. Be my new comfort food or my security blanket.

Be the brand I will not be able to live without after this mandatory hibernation.

The spaces are waiting to be filled.

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