How Covid-19 has affected our habits for better and worse
It has been two years since most countries worldwide found themselves in lockdown due to the Coronavirus. The pandemic has had a massive effect on people's lives all around the world.
It has changed everything in our day-to-day lives, from how we work, sleep, interact to how we spend our money and our time. Join us as we take a look at the most significant changes that Covid-19 has had on our lives.
Obviously, with the initial lockdown, many countries put in place to help combat the spread of the virus; people couldn't get out shopping other than for essential goods.
When measures have been relaxed, perhaps due to loss of jobs and a related loss of income, most individuals have curbed their frivolous spending.
Statistics show one of the hardest-hit areas has been the cosmetics industry. L'Oreal has stated that sales in beauty products have fell around 25% due to the pandemic.
Working from home and constant mask usage when out of the house is most likely the culprit of this decline.
Internet shopping across the globe, in all sectors, has increased with the shops closed and with consumers that are hesitant to go out when the shops are open; this is no surprise.
From hand sanitizer to groceries, cleaning supplies, and everything in between, online shopping has become the preferred way to shop. Online sales in the U.S went up 31.8% quarter over quarter per the U.S. Census Bureau in 2021.
With lockdown, most households saw an increase in their screen time. In the UK, for example, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ saw around 12 million new users join in March of 2020.
Interestingly, according to a study done in the UK called 'Media Nations 2020', when lockdown measures eased at the end of June 2020, the use of streaming services did not decline and held steady at the 71% increase that came from lockdown.
55% of UK adults said they would continue with their new subscriptions and spend the same amount of time watching them as they did during lockdown.
The webpage 'RunRepeat' organized a survey with 12,913 participants from 139 countries to collect data on how Covid had changed the population's physical activity level.
The survey shows that people who were active before the pandemic have increased their activity level. People who exercised 1-2 times a week increased exercising by an average of 88%. Oddly, those who were the most active before the pandemic have decreased their activity level. Those exercising 4+ times a week saw a decrease of 14% in their activity level.
The most significant increase in exercise has come from those who were least active pre-pandemic. Perhaps this explains the surge in spending on home fitness equipment, as these individuals were probably the least prepared to workout at home. With gyms closed and many people wanting to take better care of their health, spending on home fitness equipment went up a whopping 123% in 2020.
Over the past two years, as restrictions have been relaxed and then increased again, restaurants have really taken a hit. Many consumers no longer feel safe eating out even if it is allowed.
Fast food and casual dining restaurants in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. saw a massive drop in sales. According to statistics, fast food sales went down on average 45% and casual dining saw a decrease of 67% in these three countries.
Since we spend so much time at home and have less time for out-of-the-house distractions, it is only natural that home cooking has increased. According to an Acosta report, more than 55% of consumers in the U.S. claim they are eating at home more than before.
Whereas in the U.K., studies indicate that there has been a 72% percent increase in cooking in English homes. In countries worldwide, there has also been an increase in learning more complicated cooking techniques and an interest in trying new recipes.
Even though our lifestyle has slowed down during the pandemic, our stress has not. Many individuals around the globe have been having an extra glass of wine or beer to help them unwind. According to a study done in 83 countries by BMJ Open 36% of adults reported an increase in their alcohol consumption.
The most significant increase came from individuals under very high levels of stress or isolation: essential workers, those whose partner was severely ill from COVID-19, individuals suffering from depression and anxiety, and of course, parents. Members of these groups saw a 95% increase in the amount of alcohol they drank.
According to a study done by OnePoll for the American Fishing and Boating Association, 60% of Americans have a newfound appreciation for nature.
Similar studies done in other countries indicate that more people are enjoying outdoor activities on a global level. Campgrounds and national parks saw a surge in campers and hikers over the summer, as many individuals see these activities as safe and relaxing.
According to research published in the journal Current Biology, people in the U.S. and Europe are sleeping more due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Europeans have been sleeping around 15 minutes more on average since the pandemic began.
University students have been benefitting the most, probably because of online classes. A study of 139 universities done by the Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, found students were spending an average of 30 minutes longer sleeping on weekdays and around 24 minutes on weekends.
When you spend all day in your house or apartment, the little improvements that need to be made really, really start to stand out. With plenty of time on our hands and the lack of available professionals, many have taken to DIY.
Both in Europe and North America, sales of tools and DIY supplies have increased as homeowners attempt to cure their boredom by improving their homes.
Working from home has been a huge life change for both employees and companies around the world. In the U.K., a survey by the University of Birmingham and the University of Kent found that 86% of those surveyed had worked from home in 2020, and 70% of those employees had flexible working times.
In the U.S., an American survey found that 44% percent of employees worked from home five days a week or more; however, only 17% of employees worked in these conditions before the pandemic.
With more time spent at home, studies have found a major increase in the amount of reading we do. Research done by Nielsen's Books in the U.K. found that 41% of people read more books than they did before lockdown.
Not only are people reading more books, but they are also reading for more extended periods of time, with the average time spent reading rising from 3.5 hours to 6 hours a week.
Throughout Europe and North American, arts and crafts suppliers have had a boom in sales ever since the pandemic arrived. Hobbycraft in the U.K. has noted a 200% increase in sales. With more time on our hands, we are finally finding time to explore new hobbies, everything from soap making to finally trying oil painting.
Parents with young children have also been spending plenty on craft supplies in a desperate attempt to keep them away from screens. Whatever people's motivations are, arts and crafts suppliers couldn't be happier with the increased sales.
According to new research from the University of East Anglia, the University of Exeter, and the Global Carbon Project, global greenhouse gas emissions went down by roughly 2.4 billion tons in 2020, 7% lower than in 2019 and the most significant decline on record. It is evident that these numbers are due to global Covid-19 restrictions.
A decrease in travel and transportation caused a global drop in carbon emissions. In the U.S. carbon emissions went down by 12%, in the European Union by 11%, in India by 9%, and in China by 1.7%.
Research done by Mintel indicates that individuals across Europe agree that staying in touch with friends and family has now become a higher priority for them than it was before the pandemic.
Mintel found that 57% of British and 55% of French agreed with the statement, followed by Italians (47%), Spanish (46%). The survey found that the Germans and Polish were least likely to lean more on friends and family, with only 38% and 34% agreeing with the statement.
Even though many of us are now working from home, when we do return to work, the days of going in to work well under the weather are most likely gone for good. Since the arrival of Covid-19, we've learned the great importance of keeping our germs to ourselves.
We've become masters at hand sanitizing and at sneezing into our elbow. The stigma of missing work due to illness is gone; if you are sick, your colleagues certainly don't want you coming in!