Lockdown’s Local Boost

New member Message House, based in Berkhamsted has recently, carried out a national survey on our reactions to lockdown:

If you fancy going out over the summer, you might be wise to book your local restaurant table, UK holiday and trip to the hairdressers now.

Who knows when and how the lockdown will be lifted, but if it comes in the next few weeks, local hospitality services, holiday resorts and personal groomers are going to be busy, according to our latest Message House research.

While some remain concerned about COVID and cautious about venturing out, many people can’t wait to get out and do more – providing social distancing is being maintained.

The last few months have been a nightmare for lots of people but, for most, they haven’t all been bad.  The data suggests that 80% of us will want to continue some aspects of lockdown life into the future, whether that’s connections with friends, a new exercise regime or a slower pace to life.

For brands, this shift in consumer behaviour represents an unprecedented challenge. It has accelerated shifts in consumer buying habits, created more demand for value for money as the downturn hits people’s pockets, and really shone a light on the value of a local connection.

We asked a representative sample of 2,000 members of the UK public what’s the first thing they will do when the lockdown is finally lifted, and what aspects of lockdown life would they want to continue in the future.

Here’s the six things that really stand out:

  1. Family life is the top priority for the coming months. The first thing half of us want to do is to go immediately to see loved ones. An amazing 5% of respondents said they wanted a hug.  Family time will be more important in the coming period and expect the motorways to be busy as we all hit the road to visit the relatives.  High on the list is also seeing friends – whether over a meal out or in each other’s homes.  Some of the new-found traditions will be maintained too – the family Zoom quiz night, keeping in touch with friends over Facetime, or via street WhatsApp groups.  It seems we’ve become more sociable during the lockdown and this may be slow to diminish.
  2. There’s a stronger connection to the ‘local’. By that, I don’t just mean the local pub, although lots of people want to go there too, both to see friends and support local businesses. The importance of the local community has grown during the lockdown, explaining why many respondents mentioned local shops, local services, restaurants and activities as things they wanted to buy from as soon as they can.  Staying local also applies to holidays.  While the allure of the Med is still there, for those who want a break, most are expecting to holiday in the UK rather than overseas this year.  For UK businesses, being able to show their local credentials could be very important in the months ahead.
  3. After working from home, some feel there’s no going back. For 11% of respondents, the flexibility and freedom of remote working, combined with the absence of a commute, means they’re very reluctant to go back to the old routine. Not everyone is a convert and a number of people mentioned a longing for getting back to the office and seeing colleagues, while for others, juggling work and home life had proved impossible.  Of course, some also have no job to go back to, but from those that do, expect demands for more flexible working to become the norm.
  4. Go outdoors. Blessed with amazing weather, the lockdown has helped people get out and reconnect with their local area. Going outdoors to explore, exercise or enjoy the countryside is something people want to continue.  When they fully reopen, parks, gardens, beaches and open spaces will be in high demand, as will exercise classes and fitness apparel.
  5. Mental health is an even greater priority. Mental health was already a big theme before March and it’s clear the lockdown has taken its toll on many people. For some, they are seeking to regain certainty and control over their lives.  Others are looking for a chance to reconnect with loved ones and get back some perspective.  Mental well-being was mentioned frequently in responses which, while worrying, is perhaps also a positive sign that people are more willing to be open about the challenges they face.
  6. Time for a night out. Despite concerns about social distancing, many want to return to their local pub or treat themselves to a meal out more than anything else. For some it’s about reconnecting with friends, for others a treat after a tough few months.  Many saw staying in as a safe alternative, so expect lots of summer BBQs and socially-distanced dinner parties.  Finally, before any of this can happen of course, personal grooming is a must.  6% said a trip to the beauticians, barbers or BOTOX clinic needs to come before anything else.

The full results can be found here.


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