Savvy shoppers tighten belts in Covid wake

Price is on the rise as a key purchase driver as new AHDB research reveals a third of consumers have seen a change in household employment status in the wake of Covid-19.

AHDB’s latest consumer tracker, conducted by YouGov in August 2020, shows 14 per cent of households were affected by furlough, 13 per cent had their hours reduced, six per cent had been made redundant or asked to resign and three per cent had been made to take unpaid leave. This is on top of the 19 per cent who were unemployed, retired or in education before March.

That leaves just 48 per cent of workers unaffected by the pandemic. As a result of tightening purse strings, cost has grown in importance to shoppers over the past three months with 43 per cent saying they have become more price conscious. This figure increases in line with the number of children in a household, rising to 57 per cent for those with three or more children.

Overall, time to cook is the most important purchase driver but as the recession bites, it is losing ground to price. At category level, price is the most important factor for meat at 33 per cent, whereas for dairy and potatoes, the best-before date remains paramount. Provenance is also becoming more important, with British or local choice growing as a factor across all three categories.

The AHDB/YouGov tracker also looked at money-saving behaviours in store. Just over half of shoppers had switched from brands to supermarket own-label, 49 per cent had bought more products on promotion and 42 per cent had swapped to cheaper stores. 

Grace Randall, AHDB consumer insight analyst, said: “Money-saving behaviours can hold opportunities to position products with that in mind. Increased cooking from scratch tends to benefit fresh and chilled categories while increased focus on reducing food waste may benefit frozen and products packaged in such a way to extend shelf-life. Customers can also be encouraged to trade up to premium lines for date nights or celebrations in the home as people reduce spend on eating out or takeaways.

“It’s also important to remember while price is important, it is not the only influencer of choice and needs to be balanced with other drivers such as versatility, taste and convenience.”

For the full report, visit

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.