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UK Media & Consumer Market Update — June 3, 2020

UK Media & Consumer Market Update — June 3, 2020
3 June 2020 Zac van Manen

Accurate as of: 3 June 2020

Current UK status:

Visit for all official information.

  • As of 9am on 2 June 2020, a total of 4,615,146 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), of which 277,985 were confirmed positive.
  • 39,369 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
  • The UK is now considered the worst affected country in Europe, exceeding the death toll of Italy and Spain. The US remains the worst affected country in the world (over 1.8 million cases), followed by Brazil (558,000 cases) and Russia (432,000 cases).
  • The current lockdown rules include those who cannot work at home are now encouraged to go to work if they can safety practice social distancing at the same time.
  • People may now enjoy time in groups of up to 6 people in a back garden or public space, as long as they can maintain the 2m social distancing rule.
  • Exercise outdoors is unlimited for those in England. Gyms, tourist attractions, restaurants and the like all remain closed. Driving is permitted, and use of public transport is strongly discouraged.
  • Non-essential shops are permitted to re-open from 15 June, pending they can provide a safe shopping experience.
  • Primary schools have started to reopen, while secondary schools will begin to reopen from 15 June.
  • The ‘out of lockdown’ roadmap is conditional, however if all goes to plan, the earliest that we would see UK domestic tourism kick-starting is in July. International travel is not expected to begin again until August at the earliest and is dependent on FCO advice.

UK travel restrictions:

Visit for all official information.

  • As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.
  • Most flights in and out of the UK are cancelled. Airlines are cancelling flights approximately 7 days out from departure.
  • A 14-day mandatory quarantine for all UK arrivals from 8 June (except from Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man) has been confirmed by the Government. It will affect anyone arriving by plane, train or ferry. This decision has been met with strong criticism from the UK travel industry, and over 200 travel companies have signed a petition against it.
  • UK travellers are still banned from entering the US, as well as many other countries around the world. However, some countries have scheduled border openings and will allow UK visitors, such as Italy (from June) and Spain (from July).

Media commentary:

  • In response to criticism over the 14-day mandatory quarantine rules, Priti Patel has said “We owe it to the victims of Covid-19 to impose quarantine.” However, the heads of more than 300 of Britain’s biggest travel and hospitality businesses warned the Government they could lay off up to 60 per cent of their staff if it pressed ahead with quarantine, even with air bridges in place by the end of June (Telegraph).
  • The air bridge concept has been welcomed by the travel and tourism industry, but public health experts and officials have warned that the idea of air bridge links between the UK and overseas holiday destinations may prove impossible this summer, amid continued concern over how they could operate safely (Guardian).
  • Quarantine is now being described widely by travel industry leaders as a “three-week wonder” that will be quietly dropped at the first opportunity, perhaps even by the end of June (Independent).
  • Country Tourism Boards are outlining their safe travel and tourism policies, such as Spain and Portugal, while others such as Egypt are reducing visa and heritage site access costs to draw tourists (TTG).
  • EasyJet have announced they will resume flying on almost 75% of its route network by August – with new health and hygiene measures brought in (TTG).
  • Travel agencies have been given the green light to reopen from mid-June, subject to be able to meet the government’s secure guidelines (TTG).
  • Media are still seeking destination/product news and openings, health & safety measure updates, data stories and travel story ideas. However, health & safety measure stories need to have something innovative and use new technology to be newsworthy.
  • We are seeing a lot of media requests for UK travel and staycations, but increased interest in international travel to nearby European destinations that the UK may have an air bridge with.
  • Travel content relating to flight-free travel, natural landscapes, the outdoors, escapism, and getting active is increasingly sought, as following global lockdowns people believe that holidays incorporating the great outdoors will be popular.
  • Camping, sports, cycling, hiking holiday ideas are sought at the moment, focusing on the UK and Ireland.
  • General feedback from publications is that press trips are on hold, but they will look at trip invitations from September onwards (although 2021 is looking like the safest option). They may not be able to commit 100% just yet, however.
  • Travel teams are still very small, with post publications putting a large percentage of their staff on furlough. Media feedback has been quite minimal, likely because those who are still working have an increased workload.

Consumer commentary:

  • Searches for package holidays to popular European destinations have risen in the past two weeks as countries move to reopen their borders to tourists following lockdown. Interest in holidays to Spain between 1 July and 31 October have increased by 52%, Greece by 51% and Portugal by 38% (Travel Weekly).
  • According to a Travel Supermarket survey, there have also been 40% more price comparison searches for July, August and September holidays in the last fortnight. The ten most popular countries are: Spain, US, Greece, Maldives, Turkey, Mexico, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, UAE (Travel Weekly).
  • British consumer sentiment has dropped to its lowest since January 2012 as the vast majority believe the economy is headed for a recession or a depression due to the pandemic, according to a monthly YouGov/CEBR survey (Reuters).
  • British retailers struggling during the pandemic have cut their prices by the most in a month since 2006, according to industry figures revealing the scale of the economic fallout. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen said shop prices fell by 2.4% in May following a decline of 1.7% in April as people continued to stay away from the high street during lockdown (Guardian).
  • Britain is likely to run at a 5% annual deficit of national income by 2024, according to calculations by independent economists (Financial Times).
  • British households repaid record amounts of debt racked up on credit cards and personal loans in April as consumers stayed away from the high street during lockdown (Guardian).
  • Agents are seeing a slight increase in UK bookings for overseas travel, particularly to destinations that are ‘off the beaten track’ and offer lots of outdoor experiences, such as the Maldives and Caribbean. Searches for these types of destinations are also up this week on previous weeks. This shows slightly more confidence in the market than before.

Social media:

  • I mean, it’s basically just Trump vs. Twitter at this point but even all of that has been so overshadowed by the #BlackLivesMatter campaign across the US — and the world — this week. Trump signed an executive order to have the FCC investigate whether or not social networks are just platforms or if they’re publishers — ie. whether or not they’re responsible for what their users post. They’ve mostly skirted around this issue in the past but only taking down flagrant abuse but fact-checking Trump’s tweet about mail-in ballots has ignited a long-gestating fight between the President and the social networks he loves to hate (but keep using).
  • Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is standing firm in his decision to not amend Trump’s posts in any way.
  • Where you stand on the above will have a lot to do with whether you consider social network, at their current size, to be public utilities or private companies. But if they’re public, are they American ones or are they global comms utilities?
  • If you missed it (not sure how you could have if you opened Instagram even once), #blackouttuesday completely dominated social yesterday. Originally a music industry initiative, black tiles began to occupy most of the Feed — and plenty of Stories — in solidarity with the death of George Floyd and countless other unarmed black Americans. But as we reached into the afternoon, it became clear that the huge volume of black tiles posted in #blacklivesmatter was crowding out resources and organisational information for the US protests so what was a morning grassroots campaign turned into a different evening campaign pushing for people to delete their black square — or at least use a different hashtag. Likely a good case study for the value of leading on a social message — make sure the purpose of your hashtag and campaign are clear, straightforward, and understood.
  • #blackouttuesday is also a good reminder of the actual purpose of hashtags — as a filing mechanism for related posts rather than as just another branding exercise. If you’re not hoping to collate all your posts in one place for discoverability, your hashtag should just be part of your copy instead.
  • Everything else seems a bit small this week in comparison but find below a rundown of some regular platform updates:
  • Native scheduling on desktop Twitter is now available! (As a general note, desktop social > mobile social, especially now that Creator Studio)
  • Snapchat announces online partner summit for June.
  • TikTok challenger Zynn is seeing explosive growth in the US so keep an eye out for this new platform to make some waves in the UK as well. If data security is your main bugbear with TikTok, Zynn’s Chinese-owned as well so might not be for you. But what makes Zynn different to TikTok? An in-app rewards scheme. Users can convert these rewards into a bunch of real-world stuff, like gift cards and even cash! Data security concerns in viral apps could be a big issue for both companies as they grow — even though TikTok’s technically based in the Cayman Islands now — so keep an eye out for updates.
  • Pinterest has also put out one hell of a business guide for brands on the platform, clearly, beautifully, and succinctly laying out how their users are coping during COVID and how they’re using their pins and boards to look to the future.

Confused about how best to communicate with your customers during this period? Get in touch.