Shopping for toiletries during and after lockdown: Have we changed habits for good?

Coronavirus changed the way people buy toiletries, causing a sharp increase in people buying online only during lockdown; 30% of UK consumers shopped this way, as opposed to 6% before the pandemic hit, according to new findings from YouGov.

Though the online-only shopping trend has decreased, and looks set to do so (only 8% plan to shop online-only for toiletries in the future), we’ve now become a nation that combines online and in-store shopping for these essentials; 41% of us plan to do both in the future, and there’s been a decline in the number of shoppers who intend to only shop in person from now on.

The effects of coronavirus on society – not just how we shop, but how we work, learn, socialise and relax – are long-lasting, so we can expect masks and hand gel to be part of our lives into 2021 and beyond, but not everything has to be negative.

Buying toiletries online, for those who have the means, is easier than ever before:

  • Many bricks and mortar stores set up or improved their websites during lockdown, so you can support them through the internet and order online to be delivered or to click and collect. Visiting in person doesn’t work for everyone – maybe you work night shifts, you’re a carer, you have a chronic condition, or you’re just trying to limit person-to-person contact during the pandemic.

 

  • Online reviews help you find the right products. If you don’t feel there’s enough information on the website, try searching the name of your product and the word ‘review’ or ‘swatch’ in Google, and see a whole host of reviews from customers and beauty bloggers.

 

  • You’ll find a huge range of ethical, sustainable and organic brands on the internet, too, helping you make better buying choices and really consider the background of each product. Refillable items are becoming more widely available, and some retailers will let you set up a recurring order so you never run out.

For those who prefer to shop in person, refillable products can be tracked down on the high street, too, and zero waste stores are increasingly popular, allowing you to bring or buy a container and then top up your supplies. We should also note that not everyone feels comfortable shopping online, so it isn’t a universal option.

However you choose to shop, the most important thing is to look at the products already in your home before you open your wallet. It’s okay to admit you’ll never use the bath set you got for Christmas last year, or that the disposable razors don’t need to be kept now that you’re switching to a smart bamboo razor. Donate the things you don’t need through Toiletries Amnesty, so there’s enough room for the things you can’t live without, and you help strangers in your community at the same time.

YouGov’s research found that 39% of people spent less time on personal grooming in lockdown, and over a quarter (27%) of people bought fewer products. Of those who didn’t buy as many toiletries, 50% said it was because they used products much slower than before. As we move through the second wave of coronavirus, it’s a good time to work out which products are gathering dust, leaving you to focus on the ones you can’t wait to use.