by Julia Thomas on 13/02/2021
2020 has been a challenging year for high ticket price products due to the uncertainty around the jobs market and the future of the economy. But, with people staying at home, we have had to rely on our kitchen appliances more than ever. In the beginning, we saw the bulk-buying of food requiring somewhere reliable to store it all, and so the sales of chest freezers surged. Currys PC World said it had seen an unseasonal rise in the sale of fridges, freezers and chest freezers, whilst AO.com also reported that the first week of March was their busiest week on record.
Many people then turned to baking as one of their top lockdown activities, and from the empty shelves in the supermarkets, it seemed everyone was at it! Soda bread had a huge spike in Google searches in early April as keen bakers set out to create their masterpieces. With lots of home baking going on, food preparation products such as kitchen machines and hand mixers have been growing in popularity, with Gfk insights showing significant growth in value sales. In fact, purchases of food stand mixers rocketed by 218.6% as people invested in good quality cooking equipment from the money saved from not dining out.
Before the crisis we were in an era of spending on ‘experiences’ in preference to goods, with increasing spend YoY within the leisure industry – from eating out to attending the theatre and sporting events. Everything in fact that has been the hardest hit.
With our confidence knocked regarding visiting venues where there could be many people, I believe we will now be reverting back to household spending and adding value to our homes. Having reconnected with our kitchen during this time, it will be one of our priorities to re-look at and we will be investigating how we can upgrade to suit our new needs.
A recent Tesco commissioned a study of 2,000 adults established how we are actually using our kitchens differently. Mine certainly has, with one side becoming my office and the other a dance studio for my daughter’s continuing degree studies, complete with mirrors on one wall! For most, it has been all about cooking with more than a fifth of us having had the time to prepare evening meals from scratch. Compare this to pre lockdown where only one in eight meals were cooked from scratch. And fewer, larger food shopping trips have meant more leftovers that we have had to find creative ways of making the most of. Tesco’s study reported 35% of people said they were now better at using leftovers, having picked up tips across social media on how to cut down on waste and were using their freezers more to save food for another time
Another interesting outcome of the study was more than 10% enjoyed a ‘virtual meal’ by coordinating their cooking with someone else on a video call. With this video calling for cooking or otherwise, we have been inviting more people into our homes and kitchens, increasing our awareness of what people may think about where we live. Seeing inside the homes of our colleagues, friends, and celebrities has also given us kitchen envy!
Google search trends tell us that from a dip at the beginning of lockdown we are now just starting to look for ideas on how we can improve our kitchen environment and refresh the four walls we have been cooped up in for the past three months. I believe this is now going to start to increase even more.
Kitchen showrooms have now reopened, and many are offering virtual design appointments for our newly researched ideas to start materialising. Wren Kitchens have even recently announced they are on track with expansion plans with four new showrooms opening this summer and another eight in winter.
So, are we going to emerge from our COVID-19 hibernation as a healthier, better read, nation of competent bakers demanding better and brighter kitchens to continue our new passions? Only time will tell.