London, 26th October 2023: With over half (56%) of Brits now commuting four days a week or more, the latest Virgin Media O2 Business Movers Index reveals a cost-conscious approach: cutting expenses by maximising office perks, making the most of public transport, and hunting for the best online shopping deals as major shopping events like Black Friday approach.
Combining anonymised and aggregated UK movement data from O2 Motion with national polling findings, the quarterly barometer reveals key behavioural trends of UK consumers and businesses. Together, the data paints a reliable picture of movement patterns and the trends behind them.
The third quarter of this year reveals a nation of savvy Brits using everything at their disposal as the cost-of-living crisis reaches its two-year mark, including cheaper public transport and access to free heating in the office to cut costs and maximise wellbeing.
Retail outlook brightens ahead of winter sales season
As key seasonal shopping milestones approach, retailer optimism is settling in with the majority expecting events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to yield big returns. 88% of retailers expect Black Friday to have an impact on sales, closely followed by ‘Panic Saturday’ – the last Saturday before Christmas – with 85%. The data shows savvy shoppers are planning to maximise how they spend their hard-earned cash, with over half (55%) saying they are likely to participate in Black Friday shopping. Over the quarter, shopping centre trips have remained the same as Q2 but high street trips dropped by -6% in the summer months. September brought a welcome boost for high street shops of 6% likely due to back-to-school shopping, which could continue to grow as winter sales approach.
The Index also shows an increase in those shopping second hand in the past month, up by three points to 47% this quarter, while over a third (35%) have changed their shopping habits to seek out better prices in the last three months, as 40% say they are more budget-conscious.
Commuters flock back to offices for company and comfort
In both July and August, O2 Motion data showed that commuting trips fell by -6%. However, these trips surged by 18% in September as schools reopened. Commuting numbers have been rising with well over half (56%) of the public going to workplaces four days a week or more. Just under two thirds (64%) of UK businesses have also seen an increase in workers returning to the office, compared to the previous quarter (55%).One in five British workers (21%) said that free heating would encourage them to commute into the office more often, rising to 24% for over 65s. Meanwhile, one in four (25%) cited opportunities to connect better with colleagues and 22% better mental wellbeing.
Brits stick to public transport for savings and sustainability
While strikes and delays have continued to cause disruption across the last three months, they haven’t deterred Brits. Just under one in five (19%) revealed they’ve increased their use of public transport for non-work travel in the past three months. O2 Motion movement data shows people aged 65+ are most likely to travel during the day, with 26% travelling between 9am and 3pm. Meanwhile, younger age groups tend to favour late afternoon into the night, with over a third (38%) of 18-24 year-olds’ trips taking place between 6pm and 3am.This reflects a more budget-conscious Britain striving to keep bank accounts balanced during a tough second year coping with a cost-of-living crisis. Over two fifths (44%) of individuals surveyed stated that cost savings were the biggest factor for using public transport more often, with environmental considerations (33%) also a major driver in the face of growing concerns around climate change.
Jo Bertram, Managing Director of Virgin Media O2 Business, said: “Despite a tough second year of the cost-of-living crisis, British resilience shines through in the third edition of our Virgin Media O2 Business Movers Index. Retailers have reason to be optimistic about the upcoming sales season, with savvy shoppers planning ahead to get the best deals before, during and after the festive period.
“Meanwhile, our data shows increasing numbers of UK workers heading into the office – with free heating and the promise of stronger working relationships deemed more valuable as businesses continue to shape a balanced hybrid future of work. Brits are also increasingly looking to make the most of cheaper transport options with many turning to public transport and walking to save costs.
“As British firms continue to adapt to a fast-changing macro-economic climate, informed decision-making is crucial. Our O2 Motion insights have been supporting businesses for years and will continue to help them unlock the data they need to make strategic choices.”
The Virgin Media O2 Business Movers Index is a publicly available quarterly report that explores the latest UK movement insights from each quarter.
*Data insights from O2 Motion never allow identification or mapping of individuals and operate within strict privacy guidelines. O2 Motion does not capture international visitors in the UK or children.
Notes to Editor:
Strand Partners’ specialist research team conducted an online survey of 2,000 nationally representative members of the public (by age, gender and NUT1 region) online between 30.09.23 and 05.10.23. All data was then weighted against the latest ONS census. For businesses, 2,000 UK business leaders were surveyed who confirmed that they were currently in senior leadership roles (e.g. CEO, C-suite, director-level) of UK businesses. All data gathered is of a publishable quality and is produced within Market Research Society guidelines. For full data tables and more detail of the methodology, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.