Audience shots #26: Home is where the spending is

Being stuck at home has given us a new interest in cleaning, tidying and homewares

The Beyond Collective
5 min readOct 14, 2020
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Earlier in lockdown we looked at the trend for DIY, with retailers like Wickes and B&Q seeing demand booming. But what about the smaller tweaks we’re making to improve life at home. Cleaning more, decluttering spaces, adding new cushions?

In a survey released this month, Yale — maker of locks and also, helpfully, keys — surveyed 2,000 adults and found that we’re spending 46% more time at home compared with the Old Times average of nine hours a day. Familiarity hasn’t, in this case, bred discontent — apparently a quarter of us were previously indifferent to our homes but have grown to love them since lockdown.

Getting our houses in order

In between trying to look interested in video calls, homeschooling and tending to sourdough starters, early lockdown saw a lot of us being struck with the bright idea that we could do with some extra space. Cue a mass of clear-outs — after all, who needs work clothes in 2020?

Charity shops reported being overwhelmed with donations when they were allowed to open in late spring, forcing some to place restrictions on how much people dropped off, or even banning it temporarily (the backlog has largely cleared so feel free to get donating again).

Nature, however, abhors an underdressed room — apparently we’re now busy wondering how we can fill our houses up again.

We know we’re spending less on clothes — are some of us ploughing that money into homewares and pot plants instead?

Big retailers like John Lewis and certainly think so, marking the start of autumn with homewares oriented campaigns.

Cleanliness comes to the fore

Stats vary but in the late 2010s it was estimated that between one in four and one in three households in the UK employed a cleaner. Research in 2019 found that only half of us were setting aside time to do housework each week, with long working hours being blamed for our hoovers being neglected.

Well, those old friends — lockdown and working from home — have changed things.

Even when restrictions were at their tightest the government didn’t specifically ban cleaners, but it was clear that many householders put ethics (or just their own safety?) ahead of their personal reluctance to tackle the multiplying dust bunnies. And so we turned to Aunty Google for advice.

Coronavirus fears clearly sparked some of the interest — look at what happened to the search ‘how to deep clean your house’ the week of lockdown.

But for others, being indoors so much has meant a more strategic approach than before.

What’s a trend without a product?

For the majority of us, cleaning products are relatively functional purchases. But there are people whose love of disinfectant is, well, comprehensive.

As you might expect, with more interest in cleaning we’re also wondering what stuff to buy to do it properly.

We were also checking out the viral killing capabilities of well-known brands.

Doing our own research is one thing, but we live in the era of the influencer. Mrs Hinch, whose recommendations have the power to empty supermarket shelves in a matter of days, is the queen of them all with nearly four million followers and even an autobiography.

But there are plenty of other cleaning stars on Instagram (where else). Hands up if you’re one of those filthy slatterns who isn’t washing your pet’s bed weekly?

But whether your house is spick and span, a bit of a mess or an Instagram hit, let’s all take a minute to be grateful if we’re lucky enough to have decent roofs over our heads. So many people don’t — which is why we’re supporting Shelter’s campaign to get the government to invest properly in social housing. Maybe you’d like to join us?



The Beyond Collective

Bite-sized people observations from The Beyond Collective, the independent creative group for the Audience Age