New research shows pandemic impact on shopper habits at Co-op

Central England Co-op today publishes new research about how shopping habits changed for its customers during lockdown.

Using data taken from sales in its stores since the pandemic began, the retailer, which has over 260 sites across 16 counties, revealed that its findings showcased how Covid-19 impacted what people put in their baskets while out getting food and vital essentials.

The research showed:

  • Pub closures generated a big increase in sales for beers, wines and spirits – so much so that sales were higher than ever recorded, even larger than at Christmas
  • The biggest spike in single sales was related to hand sanitiser and toilet roll – mainly at the start of lockdown
  • People having more time at home saw six weeks supply of garden plants sell out in two days
  • Stockpiling also resulted in major increases in long-life, frozen and fresh products
  • One area that showed a surprise rise in sales was protein with research suggesting that it is because men are shopping more during the pandemic
  • Average basket size also increased dramatically, mainly due to the fact that many people swapped a weekly big shop to regular visits to convenience retail sites

Marta Foley, Customer Analytics Manager, said: “These findings truly showcase how we all changed the way we shopped for food and essentials during lockdown.
“Some elements will not come as much of a surprise but other elements have revealed the extent of the uncertain times that we now live in.

“While we expect some lockdown behaviours to slowly come to an end, there are also many others that will stay, an important one being people being able to shop locally in a safe way and with a retailer which makes a difference in the local community.”

Other trends identified during lockdown included:

  • 34% of all adults say that doing exercise has become a higher priority
  • 31% of adults say that eating healthily has become a higher priority since the start of the outbreak
  • 67% of consumers value experiences more than material possessions, a much higher score than pre-pandemic


Notes to editors


About Central England Co-operative


Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.


Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish. 


Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.


Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 


We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.


We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.


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Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle


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