top of page

Lockdown Behaviour & Statistics

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

Lockdown has forced people around the world to change the way they live their lives.

In Britain we have been spending most of our time at home, attempting to educate our own children and leaving the house only for essential reasons. What has kept us going? Here's what British people have been doing to cope with life in lockdown.

Socialising Virtually

With almost half of Britons (48%) reporting that their wellbeing has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, according to the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS), large numbers of us have been forced into finding new coping strategies.

Probably unsurprisingly, top of the list of things people say are helping them is staying in touch with friends and family. Almost eight in 10 respondents (78%) cite contacting important people in their lives over the phone, social media or video conferencing as a key factor in coping while being at home, according to ONS survey data collected at the end of April.

And individuals have also been flocking to a variety of platforms to stay in touch. Britons are spending more time on social media, with almost half (47%) doing so, according to polling from Ipsos Mori.

And video-conferencing tool Zoom and video-chat app Houseparty have seen huge rises in take-up. Zoom says its global daily users went from around 10 million in December last year to a massive 300 million in April, while Houseparty has revealed that its app has seen 50 million sign-ups.

Watching films and using streaming services

The second most popular way Britons have been coping, according to ONS data, has been by viewing on screens. Almost six in 10 people (57%) say they are watching films or using streaming services to help ease the impact of the crisis, according to the ONS.

Separate research by Ipsos Mori suggests households are watching more TV overall, with an average of five hours more each week being consumed than before lockdown. The same survey also reveals families are watching more TV together, with shared viewing up by 37% year-on-year since restrictions began.

Spending more time with the people we live with - and helping neighbours

More than half of Britons (54%) say spending more time with the people in their household has helped them cope, according to the ONS. But it is not only the closeness of those we live with that is easing the effects of the lockdown, some people have also found solace in their neighbourhoods.

Community spirit has also grown, ONS data suggests, with eight in 10 adults (80%) saying they think people are doing more to help others than before the pandemic began.


About half of us (52%) find exercising outside helps us cope under the current conditions, while almost one in three of us (31%) find indoor workouts beneficial, ONS survey data suggests. There are also indications that some people might be exercising more than before, with separate Ipsos Mori polling finding that a quarter (25%) have upped their activity levels since restrictions were imposed.

The popularity of virtual classes has soared. Body Coach Joe Wicks claimed a Guinness World Record after one of his online fitness classes was watched by nearly a million people - the most viewers for a workout live-stream on YouTube.

"Exercise has a dramatic anti-depressive effect," explains David Linden, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. "It blunts the brain's response to physical and emotional stress."

Cooking, gardening and reading

More than four in 10 Britons are turning to cooking, gardening or reading (45%, 42%, 44%) - or all three - to help deal with current restrictions, according to the ONS.

News that many of us have turned to baking may not come as a surprise, with supermarket shelves stripped of flour since March. British grocers saw a 92% increase in purchasing of flour in the four weeks to 22 March, according to consumer research company Kantar. That's an extra 2.1 million people who bought flour in those four weeks compared with the year before.

There has been a surge in demand for baking ingredients overall, Kantar's analysts say, with sales of suet up by 115% and sugar by 46% in the month to 22 April. More than 40% of the consumers polled by the company say they are doing more home-baking now than before lockdown.

But along with baking ingredients, people are also craving instruction. Demand for bread recipes rose dramatically on the BBC Good Food website in April, with all the top-10-viewed videos relating to baking or bread. Nine of the highest rising recipes were also bread-related, with traffic to "easy soda bread" increasing 2,700% on last year.

As well as cooking, gardening has also proved popular, with seed companies across the UK reporting huge spikes in sales at the beginning of lockdown, with some halting new orders altogether.

Since then, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says it has seen hundreds of thousands more people use its gardening advice pages compared with last year. Over the past few weeks, a third of a million Britons searched for tips on how to grow potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries at home, while traffic to compost pages has increased by nearly 500% on the previous year, the RHS says.

Doing DIY and learning something new

With some Britons in lockdown now having more time on their hands, almost a third (32%) are using those extra hours to do DIY tasks and more than one in 10 (14%) are learning something new, according to the ONS.

Platforms awarding official qualifications have also reported a surge in enrolments, such as those providing "massive open online courses", or Moocs, such as edX, FutureLearn and Coursera. Many, including the World Economic Forum, believe this shift away from the classroom towards educational technology, or "edtech", among all ages could well have changed the way we all learn and educate ourselves forever.

Spending more on food and shopping locally

New lockdown routines mean Britons are also changing shopping habits, placing more importance on food and cooking at home. Figures from Kantar show shoppers spent £524m more on groceries in the month to 22 April than last year - despite the fact that the number of supermarket visits fell.

The rise is primarily down to changing habits, analysts say, as people adapt to a new way of living, with people eating fewer meals out of the house. People are also turning to their local shops to buy essentials, with convenience stores seeing an almost 40% increase in sales, Kantar says.

Spending more on home comforts

As well as taking solace in food, there also are signs people have been purchasing comfort items - in a bid to create a safe haven within our own four walls, perhaps. For example, sales of scented candles and potpourri were up 36% in the four weeks to 22 April compared with last year, figures from Kantar show.

ebay reports that one of the biggest spikes in demand has been for hot tubs – with sales up 480%, perhaps prompted by a desire to create that seaside feeling at home during a sunny April and May.

Such changes in behaviour and buying habits may be why, coming to the end of our seventh week living under restrictions, there are signs many of us may not actually want to go back to our old ways at all.

YouGov polling suggests fewer than one in 10 people (9%) actually want life to return to "normal" after the coronavirus outbreak is over.

bottom of page