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Since the pandemic started in March, the UK has had some of the harshest anti-COVID measures. In January 2021, England’s third lockdown came into effect and even by the most optimistic estimates, Brits won’t be able to get back to their old lifestyles earlier than March 2021. Lockdown, of course, came with significant lifestyle challenges. As more people are working from home and cannot go out as usual, our homes have become entertainment hubs, and we have to reinvent the way we spend our time. 

 The Office for National Statistics conducted a series of studies to determine how people in the UK are spending their time under lockdown, and the results show much more than a tendency to binge watch TV shows. Even if many people have used the lockdown as an opportunity to relax, others have taken advantage of the free time to gain new skills and create something productive. 

Crafting is the main activity during lockdown. 

There’s something about creating an item with your own hand that provides personal satisfaction. This is what Brits have discovered during the lockdown. According to multiple surveys, the vast majority of the adult population has been spending their time on home crafting, and there was a whopping 200% boom in online sales. As for the types of crafting activities, possibilities are endless. Some people have taken up knitting. Others, candle making. With most stores closed, Brits have also done more DIY home renovation projects and learned to do woodworking. In the second quarter of 2020, hobby supply sales have reached record levels and there was also a spike in family-friendly crafting kits (since parents had more time to spend with their children). 

 So, why was crafting so popular during the lockdown? At a first glimpse, it may seem like a good way to pass the time, and it is. However, crafting is much more than that. Studies have shown that this hobby offers a plethora of mental health benefits and that it can make indoor time more bearable. The coronavirus isn’t just a danger to public health, but also for our own mental wellbeing. It can trigger a sense of loneliness and isolation, which ultimately lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. But studies have shown that crafting reduces stress, depression, and anxiety, boosts relaxation, reduces insomnia, and prevents neurological decay in the elderly. What’s more, it provides a confidence boost because you created something with your own hand. According to the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression said that they felt better happy after knitting, and 50% reported feeling “very happy”. 

 

The rise of online gaming 

Even before lockdown, online casino games such as WMS slots and platforms like ComeOn Sportsbetting were one of the most popular pastimes in the UK, so it didn’t come as a surprise that when the first lockdown came into effect, online gambling rose in popularity even more. First of all, there were the people who used to go to physical casino locations; with land-based casinos closed, they quickly moved online, where they could have the same enjoyable experience, whilst respecting social distancing measures. And secondly, there were people who didn’t play casino games before but decided to give online gambling a try – out of curiosity or to possibly earn money. Online casinos such as ComeOn.Casino estimated that there would be a surge in new users and they prepared for it by investing in servers and thinking of new offers and bonuses. For example, people could try free spins to get used to how slot machines work, or they could claim significant welcome bonuses. WMS slot machines rose in popularity during the lockdown, and as soon as sports competitions could resume, the same clients of online casino also turned to sports betting. After months of anticipation, platforms like the ComeOn sportsbook reported a surge in activity, as people couldn’t wait for their favourite teams to return. 

 Although most people played casino games and placed bets for money (and made quite a profit out of it), others chose to play it safe and use their demo accounts first. In any case, the benefits of online gaming can be just as significant as those of crafting. Played every once in a while, casino games offer a much-needed break from the stress of daily life and the monotony of lockdown life. 

 

Books and digital services 

Reading ranked as the third most popular hobby during the pandemic and book sales have also increased considerably. According to a survey commissioned by World Book Night, 31% of Brits have been reading more since lockdown began and there was a particular spike of 45% in young adults who read. Sales for paperback fiction rose by 35%, and non-fiction sales dropped by 13%, which showed that reading was a popular form of escapism. Even as bookstores stayed closed, readers bought books online. Waterstones, the biggest book chain in the UK< reported sales up to 400% higher in the week before the lockdown began. Libraries also managed to successfully pivot to the digital model. For example, Hampshire County reported a 770% increase in digital users and Cornwall County a 630% increase. 

Lastly, digital services absolutely skyrocketed during the lockdown and marked the beginning of a new era in entertainment. Online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ had to lower video quality to keep up with the astronomical number of users watching simultaneously. Gaming also had a great year. Even though some triple-A titles were delayed, games like Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing, Among Us, Resident Evil 3, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima exceeded all sales expectations. In between binge-watching their favourite TV shows and playing games, Britons also subscribed to online services such as online gym classes and online cooking classes, the sales of which rose by 18%.