From learning to cook to creating the perfect back garden golf course, Britain has become a nation of hobbyists as people try to entertain themselves during the pandemic.
As the early burst of Joe Wicks home exercise mania petered out and the reality of a months-long nationwide coronavirus restrictions set in, the public frantically set about searching for “lockdown discoveries” to keep occupied.
Future, the UK’s biggest magazine publisher, registered an 18,000% surge in online traffic to Golf Monthly from people searching for articles explaining how to create a makeshift course in their back garden.
The publisher also recorded a flood of traffic to its music websites, from Guitar World to Keyboard, from people googling “learning guitar and keyboards” during the first lockdown from March to June. Articles reviewing and rating the best beginner musical instruments fuelled a 25,000% increase in sales for partner retailers selling those products.
Of the 20 most common lockdown pastimes tried by the public – from gardening and DIY to arts and crafts and reading – “cooking more from scratch” has proved the most popular .
“People are keen to learn new skills, get a new hobby and improve their home at the same time,” said Kaitlin Madden, the managing editor of Real Homes magazine. “This often happens in difficult times but has been particularly noticeable as people have spent more time in their homes this year than ever before.”
The newfound hobby craze shows no signs of abating. Hobbycraft, the UK’s largest art and crafts retailer, has already posted a 30% increase in sales on last year, as Britons prepare to spend more time at home with the spectre of more lockdowns hanging over winter.
Katherine Paterson, Hobbycraft’s customer director, said: “We anticipate this Christmas is going to be the biggest handmade Christmas ever. The nation embraced all things craft-related during lockdown, and fell back in love with old pastimes.”
Sales of brown wrapping paper have doubled as shoppers favour a DIY approach to gift-wrapping over buying the finished rolls. Sales of calligraphy sets are up 36% and 59,000 balls of yarn have been sold since February.