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Food subscriptions and online fitness top of Brits' purchases in 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic

Abigail Fenton
·Writer
·3-min read
A fitness enthusiast continues to workout at home with the help of an online class. (Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Entertainment/PA Images)
More than one in five (22%) under-25s joined online exercise classes or a fitness subscription, compared to just 4% of over-55s. Photo: Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Entertainment/PA

Food subscriptions, online fitness and casual clothes were some of Brits’ new favourite purchases in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gyms have been hit hard by the ongoing crisis, with one in six people (16%) cancelling a membership – and a further 16% considering doing so in the future, according to a survey of 6,000 by Aviva (AV.L).

But, more positively, there is evidence of a boom for online exercise services as people look to stay fit in the safety of their own homes instead. One in 10 (11%) Brits said they signed up to online fitness classes or subscription services during 2020.

In addition, many more people said they are considering making such changes but have yet to take the plunge.

Meanwhile, with many shielding or just eager to avoid the supermarkets, one in 10 people signed up to a food box subscription service, while almost a quarter (24%) of households grew some of their own food.

READ MORE: UK consumer spending slowed even before new lockdowns

A fifth (21%) bought more items from charity or pre-owned suppliers – possibly reflecting a need to cut back on spending, as many workers have seen their incomes drop as a result of redundancies and reduced hours.

A third of people also said that they shopped at more local independent stores, indicating a desire to support small local businesses throughout the crisis.

In a year where people found themselves mostly confined to their homes, unable to attend large social gatherings, and often with reduced income, three in 10 people bought fewer clothes and shoes for themselves and their families.

Meanwhile, a similar number (29%) purchased more casual clothes than formal wear to keep them comfortable through the months of working from home and multiple lockdowns.

Many of these changes were consistent across all age groups, however, under-25s were five times more likely to subscribe to food box or meal subscription services, with a fifth doing so, than over-55s at just 4%.

READ MORE: Four in 10 Brits scaled back Christmas spending despite money being most popular gift

The younger generation was also twice as likely to take up a new TV subscription than their elders, at 28% compared to 13%, respectively.

Similarly, more than one in five (22%) under-25s joined online exercise classes or a fitness subscription, compared to just 4% of over-55s.

“Consumer behaviours underwent an overhaul in 2020 and we can expect some of these trends to continue – particularly as more businesses adopt models which allow for home working,” said Sarah Applegate, head of risk at Aviva.

“This is likely to influence how many cars households own, the clothes people purchase and possibly even their personal grooming habits.

She added: “If people make significant changes at home – such as selling a vehicle or building an extension to allow for home-working – we’d urge them to get in touch with their insurer, to make sure their policies are up-to-date and their cover is suitable for their evolving lifestyles.”

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