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Lockdown boosts “insperience” economy

Written by: Emma Lunn
Home workouts, virtual pub quizzes and remote styling sessions boom in lockdown.

More than a third of shoppers say they will continue to use virtual or at-home services even when parts of the UK economy start to open up.

The news is encouraging for service providers who were forced to turn to virtual offerings when shops, gyms, salons, pubs, and restaurants shut down on 23 March.

According to Barclaycard Payments, a third of retailers subsequently launched products and services designed specifically to be used at home.

Dubbed the “insperience economy”, in-home services include things such as virtual wine tastings, home workouts, virtual pub quizzes, DIY meal kits, and remote styling sessions.

Barclaycard found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK adults have either tried an “insperience” or plan to do so. It also found that almost nine in 10 (88%) retailers saw increased demand for in-home experiences during the past three months.

Despite more than half (56%) of retailers initially planning their insperience product lines to be temporary, more than a third (35%) of shoppers intend to continue taking part in insperiences even when the economy opens up.

Following this shift in consumer spending, retailers predict the insperience economy to be worth £168m over the next 12 months, an increase of 32%.

Four in 10 (39%) people say they intend to work out at home more even after gyms have reopened, and more than a quarter say they will continue having digital drinks (28%) even once pubs and bars are open for business.

Insperiences also offer financial boosts to businesses with more than two in five (43%) retailers reinstating furloughed staff to fill insperience-based roles.

Kirsty Morris, managing director for account development at Barclaycard Payments, says: “Lockdown has undoubtedly been challenging for retailers, but it’s promising to see how many have been quick to cater their product lines to consumers looking for entertainment and personalised products while at home.

“Over the past few months we’ve helped many of our merchant customers transition to take advantage of the insperience economy by setting them up to start taking online payments, which is testament to their agility as they’ve adapted to the ‘new normal’.  With more businesses now online, we expect the demand for insperiences to continue even as lockdown restrictions ease.”

Mary Portas, retail expert and campaign spokesperson, says: “The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a new era of shopping and living. Now more than ever, people want to enjoy the experiences they’ve always been given, but from the comfort of their own homes. Retailers that enable ‘insperiences’ will continue to thrive, even as we emerge from lockdown and enter the ‘new normal’.”

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