• Bloomberg


British consumers have spent their six weeks of coronavirus lockdown sewing, drinking cocktails, carrying out home beauty treatments and eating large quantities of kimchi.

That’s according to a report from John Lewis Partnership PLC on the nation’s shopping behavior since March 23, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson told everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. The partnership, which owns the John Lewis department store and Waitrose grocery chains beloved by the British middle classes, said “day-to-day life for Brits across the U.K. has been transformed as we’ve adapted to new ways of living.”

The research showed that sales of elastic at John Lewis have soared 15-fold as people make their own face masks, amid a shortage in the U.K. of personal protective equipment. In fact, “the nation’s love of haberdashery is stronger than ever with high demand for sewing machines, needlepoint and knitting yarn,” the retailer said in the report.

Britons are drinking and eating more too. Sales of tequila are up 175 percent, and liqueur sales have jumped 78 percent as consumers sample new cocktails at home.

“With our favorite pubs and bars sadly being shut, we have seen the rise of the ‘have a go’ bartender at home,” said John Vine, a spirits buyer at Waitrose. “People are shopping for more unusual ingredients, such as tequila and triple sec, in order to make that perfect drink for staying in.”

Sales of kimchi, a popular South Korean vegetable dish, have risen by 43 percent. Waitrose said this corresponded with the survey’s finding that almost half of shoppers polled said they’re eating “differently” during the lockdown. Searches online for cuisines including Japanese and Thai food have all seen big increases as well, the upmarket grocer said.

Most of British business has remained closed since Johnson ordered the shutdown. With the economy reeling, the prime minister has promised to set out a road map for lifting the restrictions on Sunday, with some changes set to follow from Monday.

Shopping online has featured heavily in lockdown life. Sales of decorative bedding have more than doubled, and landline phone purchases are up 80 percent. The nation’s citizens are apparently also investing in products to help them look their best on video calls, with sales of “colorful makeup palettes” up 57 percent and self-tanning products up 41 percent. Skincare sales have almost tripled in the past six weeks, as have those of facial masks and hair treatments.

People have also been gardening and exercising more, judging by their purchases, and playing board games like Monopoly. Letter-writing is back en vogue too, with sales of stamps double their usual rate throughout lockdown “as people send a letter instead of seeing loved ones.”

The findings were based on OnePoll’s survey of 2,000 U.K. adults combined with sales data and online searches from the two retailers.

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