Covid, cost of living & coffee grinders: John Lewis examines how we live now
As we approach the end of the year, it’s time for a moment of reflection. John Lewis has launched its annual report assessing how we live now, exploring the changing habits of Britain’s shoppers over the last 18 months.
The How We Shop, Live and Look in 2022 report, released in September, includes data from a 5,000 person survey, analysis of the shopping habits of millions of John Lewis customers, social media analysis of over 20 million data-points, qualitative research with customers, and interviews with world-renowned experts in economics, psychology, health, home, family and lifestyle.
And what it all comes down to, essentially, is that we’re starting to embrace a ‘Moments Economy’. What’s that? It’s an evolution of the Experience Economy where, from the late 1990s, we started to prioritise spending on experiences like travel over material possessions.
The Moments Economy is about experiences on a smaller scale. Rather than an expensive holiday, we’re more likely to look for the joy in the everyday, like elevating a tea break from a cuppa and a biscuit to time spent with friends, family or colleagues over a slice of cake.
Why have we changed the way we live?
As usual with cultural shifts, there are multiple factors behind it. The desire for more ‘real’ moments in an increasingly digital world, the impact of Covid, and the cost of living crisis have all played a part. The global pandemic reminded us how precious time spent with friends and family should be, while the cost of living crisis has forced us to be more creative in the ways we seek joy.
The majority of respondents to the John Lewis survey (72%) said that they don’t need to spend a lot of money to make them happy – in the coming year, more people plan to invest in quality time at home with family and friends (50%) than big days out (38%). Four in 10 people have held a dinner party in the last 12 months, and six in 10 say they want to host more in future.
‘What matters more is what you do, not what you own,’ says British economist Professor Lord Layard, who attributes the emergence of the Moments Economy to ‘an increase in stress worldwide, of sadness and worry’. His research shows that life is best lived ‘as it comes’, and that the happiest among us ‘enjoy the simple things’.
How has it changed the way we shop?
Apparently, we got used to entertaining outdoors during the pandemic. Over the last 18 months, John Lewis has seen garden furniture sales quadruple, with BBQs up 175% and pizza ovens up 62%. John Lewis even started selling its first ever outdoor kitchens. Flutes and wine glasses are up 88%, and dinner sets up 34%.
The return to the office also impacted the way we shop. John Lewis has discontinued its wall-mounted desks as the desperation to create multifunctional live-work spaces falls away. Sales of blazers increased by 75%, laptop bags are up 20% and travel mugs have seen a 65% hike as many head into the office for two or three days a week. But to help us concentrate during those WFH Zoom calls, coffee grinders are up 24%.
Looking ahead, 61% of people intend to grow their own food to serve – an indication that people are trying to combat the cost of living crisis by being more self-sufficient.
How has it changed the way we decorate?
We’re making our homes beautiful again. Last year, nearly a third of us renovated our homes and just over a third bought furniture. Home design appointments were up 49%, with nearly half focusing on uplifting a living room, a quarter redecorating a bedroom, and just 3% designing a home office.
Minimalism is out and maximalism in. Sales of statement white sofas rose by 48%, and sales of maximalist bobbin furniture quadrupled. John Lewis sold enough wallpaper to stretch from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Shell-themed tableware is on the up 47%. Our love of houseplants and biophilia shone through with plant pot sales up 66%. And we’re into scents in a big way – home fragrance sales are up 265%.
What’s in store for 2023?
Next year, John Lewis has anticipated four particular areas where shoppers will be investing in little moments of joy:
- Homes: a third of us are planning to move home in 2023, and nearly half expect to decorate or renovate our homes too.
- Wellness: seven in 10 intend to prioritise health and wellbeing in 2023, with over two thirds focusing on getting a good night’s sleep, the same number connecting more with nature, and six in 10 upping our exercise.
- Family: two thirds of us intend to prioritise spending time with children and grandchildren next year
- Joy: if one thing is central to the Moments Economy, it is seeking more moments of joy in occasions large and small. Alongside weddings and once-in-a-lifetime holidays, we’re celebrating pet birthdays and even breakups.
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