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Survey results: How your shopping habits may change after coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 08:19 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:27 06 May 2020

There are fewer people in Ipswich town centre during lockdown - but will the crowds ever return?   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

There are fewer people in Ipswich town centre during lockdown - but will the crowds ever return? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

The way we choose to shop in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic could change significantly, according to a survey of our readers.

More than half of people don’t expect to go back to the same way of shopping they used before the lockdown.

On shopping as a whole, 49% expected themselves to go back to the same pattern of shopping they had before the lockdown once all restrictions are lifted.

More than half are expecting to change – with 25% expecting to use local shops more. Almost 10% expect to do more shopping online and 12% expect to use their local towns more.

Less than 3% will expect to make more trips to large town centres or shopping centres.

When it comes to groceries, the survey showed that Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis was right when he said the “weekly shop” was back – just over half the people who took part were now doing a big shop once a week in person with nearly 20% doing only a fortnightly shop.

But fewer people overall were visiting large supermarkets with more relying on local shops or delivery services.

And the comments we had from contributors suggested that while they may be spending more on supermarket groceries, overall spending was not as high because less was going on things like coffee shops, eating out, or fuel for the car.

One person said: “Before I was shopping at Aldi, spending roughly £60 a week – but now shopping at Tesco or Asda costs about £100.”

Another person said they would prefer to shop more online – but there were simply no slots available at their normal supermarket even though they were in a vulnerable category.

People are also concerned about what is attracting people to shops.

One person said: “B&Q sell some essential items but I do not support non-essential shops opening when they should not be.

“I shop less and try to get a full week’s shop in one go. Social distancing is not being practiced in supermarkets now so it’s hard to imagine proper social distancing being practiced after lockdown ends. I hope to use even more local, independent shops once lockdown has ended.”

And several people said the lockdown had made them reconsider their whole shopping habits. One said: “I don’t know when I’ll feel confident enough to return to going into shops again.”

Others said they thought hard before going out and they were trying to avoid unnecessary trips of any kind while another said: “It’s made me realise what is and isn’t important.”

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People queue to get into supermarkets like Iceland in Ipswich town centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPeople queue to get into supermarkets like Iceland in Ipswich town centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The view from Ipswich:

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter says there could be a “substantial” loss of business in the wake of the lockdown – which could also hasten moves to change the character of the town centre.

He said: “It is difficult to know what the situation will be when we emerge out of this – or how long it will take. But it is important to start making plans for the future which may have to be changed radically as we know more about what is happening.

“There are inevitably going to be changes and the commercial heart of the town is going to shrink. We’ve been saying this has to happen and parts on the edge of the town centre would have to change to become residential areas, not commercial. That will inevitably accelerate after this.

Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter. Picture: PAUL GEATERIpswich Central chair Terry Baxter. Picture: PAUL GEATER

“Some businesses simply will not reopen. I don’t want to speculate on how many but there will be a substantial change in what we see in the town centre.”

Debenhams has gone into administration for the second time during the lockdown – and there has also been speculation about the future of Arcadia group stores including Top Shop.

Mr Baxter also felt the leisure and hospitality sector – which had been seen as the great hope for town centres – would suffer particularly because social distancing rules would make it difficult for them to reopen in the near future.

The view from Bury St Edmunds:

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds . Picture: Neil DidsburyMark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds . Picture: Neil Didsbury

There were similar concerns from Mark Cordell, the chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, who said his members would have to work hard to bring back shoppers and visitors to the town centre once the lockdown came to an end.

He said there would be major changes to the mix of shops, cafes, and pubs. But he added: “I remain confident that we have something really special to offer here and that we will be able to attract people back.

“But it is unrealistic to think we will not lose any businesses. Some national names may go – not because they are struggling here, but just because they have to close a number of branches.

“We hope to retain as many businesses as possible – but there will certainly be some changes here.”

The Apex shopping area in Bury St Edmunds during lockdown   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Apex shopping area in Bury St Edmunds during lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Like Mr Baxter, he conceded it was difficult to see what the final shape of the town centre was likely to be after the lockdown while we are in the middle of the lockdown.

He said: “I think that we need to consider how things might change – and work with local authorities to make sure people coming into the town centre feel safe.

“In the past we have seen making people feel safe as ensuring they don’t have to worry about crime. Now we have to look at ensuring people can feel safe as far as their health is concerned – and that will be something that we have to consider very hard.”


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