Sunday 5 April 2020 1:37 pm

Playstations and yoga mats: Online shopping surges amid UK lockdown

Online shopping has boomed in Britain since the country entered coronavirus lockdown, with households buying games consoles to pass the hours and yoga mats to keep fit and healthy while movement is restricted.

Transactions at major online UK retailers are at 170 per cent of their seasonal average, according to internet advertising firm Criteo. Brits are also spending around 20 per cent more than they normally would, with high streets shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Staying healthy is a major concern, according to the online shopping data. Sales of sporting goods have risen 10 per cent this year.

In this category yoga mats are the best-selling items as Brits turn to Youtube instructors to keep them in good shape. Sales of the mats are at 270 per cent of their levels in the first quarter of 2019.

But households are also turning to more sedentary activities. Sales of video game consoles have risen even more than yoga mats and are at 410 per cent of their 2019 levels. Sales of board games are at around 230 per cent.

What have Brits been buying online?

ItemSales compared to 2019
Olive oil563.5%
Outdoor play equipment480.5%
Video game consoles412.9%
Water filters298.8%
Free weights273.4%
Yoga mats266.9%
Laptops 250.6%
Gift bags234.4%
Board games225.1%

Marc Ó Fathaigh, UK country manager at Criteo, said there was initially a phase of stockpiling madness. But shopping habits are now reflecting the fact that people could be consigned to their houses for a while, he said.

“From last week we saw an increase in spend on fashion, homeware, and with Easter around the corner chocolate, decorations and crafts, showing that consumers are now adjusting to the new normal.”

Brits are browsing for their next online shopping purchases as they work from home, Criteo said. Online desktop browsing on retail sites has roughly doubled during the 8am to 5pm period.

Ó Fathaigh said shopping habits could change for good. “We predict three phases of consumer spend,” he said.

These are: “Shock stockpiling, a steady plateau as shoppers adjust to the new normal, and finally a slow snap-back to semi-normality – though this will see long-term changes to online spending habits.”