UK: new tiering likely to impact shopping behaviours

Date : 21 December 2020

Lucy Ingram

Retail Analyst

The UK government has introduced new rules for Christmas, with tighter restrictions in some areas of the country. We explore these, and the implications for the grocery sector.

What has changed?

  • A new tier has been introduced for London and much of the south-east
  • The whole of Wales has entered another lockdown
  • Scotland will enter a new lockdown from 26 December

Where are the new tiers?

Source: BBC News

What are the restrictions for tier 4 that could impact grocery retailers?

  • The planned relaxation of COVID-19 rules at Christmas have been scrapped
  • People will only be allowed to celebrate Christmas with members of their own household and support bubbles
  • All non-essential retail, gyms and swimming pools will close

What does this mean for grocery retail?

For many shoppers the new restrictions will change plans, with smaller celebrations to be more likely. This will mean some shoppers have too much food, and some not enough. This could impact demand seen in grocery retailers in the final few days leading up to Christmas, and may cause shoppers to amend their online orders.

With restaurants and pubs once again closed (takeaways are still allowed to open), there is likely to be increased demand on grocery retailers again in the coming weeks, until restrictions are eased. 

Also, the new variant of COVID-19 could cause shoppers to feel increasingly unsafe, subsequently impacting on their behaviour. This could cause shoppers to once again visit fewer channels, and conduct less frequent, larger shops.

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