Has the pandemic changed our habits for good when shopping and travelling?

Cycling in Ipswich

Cycling has become more popular during 2020 according to the Co-op survey. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Lockdowns and the changes to society we saw in 2020 could lead to long-term changes in many people's travelling habits according to a new survey from the national Co-op society.

We're walking more and cycling more - and a significant number of people who took part in the Ethical Consumer Markets report commissioned by the Co-op said they intended to carry on walking or cycling once restrictions were eased.

The report spoke to more than 2,000 people across the country and also used data on sales to find out what people were buying and where - and their attitudes to consumer choices.


Empty train

Trains have been nearly empty during this year's lockdowns. - Credit: Nathan Long

The big loser, however, could be the public transport industry - half of those surveyed said they had travelled less by bus or train since the start of the pandemic and one in six intend to continue avoiding public transport once pandemic fears are over.

While people may not want to share buses or train carriages with others, 45% said they were now keen to walk or cycle whenever possible in a bid to exercise more and adopt a greener lifestyle.


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The pandemic, with more people working from home, was also encouraging more people to use their local shops.


Meredith Road Ipswich

Local shopping centres like Meredith Road in Ipswich have become more popular. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “The Co-op has tracked ethical spending for two decades and this barometer on ethical purchases shows a remarkable shift.

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“Sustainable shopping has moved from being a niche market to an area of big spend. As growth continues, threats will naturally exist due to the economic impact of the pandemic, but through a challenging environment, opportunities will open up.”

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said the findings of the survey showed how important it was that public transport operators emphasised the steps that were being taken to make journeys safe.

She said: "The government advice is to stay at home where possible, but there are people who have to travel for work, for medical appointments, to get to school or college and we are all working to hard to ensure everything is safe.

"From a green transport point of view, when we can travel again as we want then the greenest way for long-distance travel is to cycle or walk to the station and catch an electric train."

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