Transport modes for shopping are changing

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Bus, Car, Cycling, Train, Walking

What does the image show?

The image shows what percentage of people were doing more (shaded bar above the line) or less (striped bar below the line) shopping by different modes in June this year compared with six months previously. The chart shows that within any headline figure of change, there are lots of changes going on in both directions. The major swings for grocery shopping are for an increase by bike (net 13% higher) and decreases for bus (net 6% reducing) and rail (net 13% reducing). For non-food shopping there have been increases in car (net 6% higher), bike (net 8% higher) and walk (net 7% higher) reflecting a general greater level of shopping in summer 2021 than January of the same year.

Why is this important?

The data challenges the narrative that the return to retail is dominated by the car. It also shows that, whilst more people are reducing their grocery shopping by public transport this is not true for non-food shopping and so the changes being seen may relate to the convenience of the activity rather than about preferences to avoid shared spaces in public transport. More active modes for accessing shopping is a positive trend for climate policy purposes and may also represent something of a shift to more localised shopping which fits better with the kinds of distances people are typically prepared to walk or cycle.

Graph: Shows the difference between transport modes for grocery and non-food shopping, between January and June 2021.