Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the first national Covid lockdown nearly two years ago. For many Brits, life now feels relatively close to normal – read on to find out how Covid has changed our lives.
But have our lives and habits changed in other ways? An article in The Guardian has taken an in depth look at this topic. We’ve picked out some key points.
Working from home
WFH is here to stay, with one-third of people still working from home at least some of the time. Many companies are now planning to introduce a hybrid model. This would allow employees to combine days in the office with time spent working at home.
The blend of home and office working is a personal preference. However, working from home will be a feature of some jobs long after the pandemic has ended.
Saving or struggling?
While office workers could work from home and save money on commuting and buying lunch, others burned through their savings. The result is a growing divide in the nation’s financial health, with more families than ever living in the red.
With lockdown bringing a temporary end to restaurants, pubs, clubs, cultural venues and overseas travel, lots of people found it easier to save.
A Bank of England survey from autumn 2020 found that 42% of high income households had increased their savings during the pandemic. This compares with just 22% of those on low incomes.
More people now do grocery shopping online and demand for delivery services has soared. Since lockdown has lifted, footfall in shops remains below pre-pandemic levels. During lockdown – when we were advised to avoid going out – ordering groceries and luxuries online became more popular.
While official figures show a recent fall, online sales still account for over a quarter of total retail sales. According to the Office for National Statistics, online sales leapt from 21% to 31.5% of total retail sales between the first and second quarter of 2020. This peaked at 36% in early 2021 after England’s third national lockdown.
Happy at home
During lockdown we watched more TV than ever before, and industry experts warn that cinemas and theatres may never be as popular again. Meanwhile, people replaced pubs and restaurants with takeaways and home cooking.
Lockdown massively disrupted our social lives, with drinks after work, restaurant visits, cinema trips and gigs all ending abruptly.
Streaming was already growing in popularity with a total of 24 million subscriptions to platforms in 2019, rising to 33 million a year later. However, it is possible that people will end subscriptions when prices start to rise.
Looking to the future
The vaccine rollout at the start of 2021 gave people hope that the pandemic would soon come to an end. However, an ONS survey designed to capture the public’s attitudes throughout the pandemic shows that this optimism has evaporated.
The latest data from the ONS shows that, by the year’s end, more people thought it would take over a year for life to return to normal than in 2020.
One indicator of the pessimism was how many people wrote their wills to ensure that if they died loved ones would know what to do and where to distribute their savings.
If you’d like some money saving tips for working from home, take a look at our ‘Money saving tips for the home office!’ blog, here.