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What Has The UK Been Up To During Lockdown?

In previous articles, we have written and analysed some of the trends that have started to emerge during Lockdown and considered those which we think might carry on in future. From increasing use of virtual meetings and home working in general, to our changing media consumption, much has and will continue to change. Amongst much of the negative Covid-19 news, we hope some positive aspects, such as appreciating our homes, gardens and surrounding areas will continue.

This week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published the initial findings from their online survey measuring use of time from the beginning of Lockdown to the end of April, compared to their same studies in 2014 and 2015. The results provide firmer data on what we, as a country, having been up to during this unparalleled period of restrictions on our freedoms.

The first and most obvious change has been the reduction in the amount of travelling (which the chart below illustrates) we have been doing. The average adult has spent 1 hour 6 minutes less on commuting and travelling in general during this time. For those in paid employment, that figures rises to 1 hour 19 minutes.

So what have been doing with this additional time? The answer seems to be indulging in leisure activities and entertainment.

Watching TV or streaming videos was the most popular entertainment activity, which we undertook for an average of 2 hours 53 minutes a day. Our time spent on the broad category of entertainment was up 44 minutes. This included increasing use of digital communications to catch up with friends and family, something we discussed in this previous blog. 28 minutes was the average time we spent a day reading – which perhaps does not factor in time spent for those parents home schooling(!).

The biggest increases of all centred on our homes and gardens, perhaps unsurprisingly given the amount of time we have spent there during this time of restrictions. Time spent on DIY and gardening (the ONS survey groups these activities together) was up a massive 147% during April.

Other categories which saw notable changes was in ‘unpaid work’ such as housework and volunteering. This was particularly significant for those living with children, with a 35% increase in providing childcare, which includes helping out with home schooling (although this clearly varied according to the age of children at home).

Something else that this ONS survey does not cover in quite the same level of detail are the changes in our exercise habits. A really interesting blog from Garmin, entitled ‘How the World has Changed,’  analysed global usage data of their fitness devices. Apparently, we took less steps during April (due to Lockdown restrictions around the Word) but to compensate for this, we actually engaged in more exercise activities. Total steps from logged activities (such as running or walking) were up 24% during April. As the chart earlier in this article, illustrates, indoor cycling is one activity that is leading the way – an investment a few years ago in an indoor bike or turbo trainer looks like it was a wise decision(!).

The above is some definitive data on what we have been doing with our time during Lockdown. Of course, many of us have been busy working at home or at our place of work – and, at David Salisbury we can certainly vouch for the significant and growing increase in levels of enquiries for orangeries, garden rooms and annexe buildings/home office spaces since the start of restrictions on our movements.

But, aside from work, it looks like we have used our additional time from travelling less for leisure and entertainment, with DIY and gardening particular trends. Improving our homes and gardens (and watching a bit of TV) is the way forward!

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