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UK Media & Consumer Market Update — July 22, 2020

UK Media & Consumer Market Update — July 22, 2020
23 July 2020 Zac van Manen

Accurate as of: 22 July 2020

Current UK status:

Visit for all official information.

  • As of 9am on 21 July 2020, a total of 10,232,901 people have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), of which 295,817 were confirmed positive.
  • 45,318 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
  • The UK is still 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 4 million cases), followed by Brazil (2.1 million cases), India (1.2 million cases) and Russia (789,000 cases).
  • The UK lockdown continues to ease, with restaurants and pubs now open, alongside shops. Domestic travel and campsite / hotel stays are now permitted, and the UK Government has provided a list of countries that do not require the 14-day quarantine upon return. FCO advice on travel continues to be updated.

UK travel restrictions:

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  • 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. However, this advice is beginning to change for certain countries.
  • A 14-day mandatory quarantine for all UK arrivals except for those announced as exempt. See here for the full list of exempt countries.
  • FCO travel advice includes information on any health measures in place for visitors to a country or territory. These can include a requirement to self-isolate, quarantine or undergo testing for coronavirus, or even restrictions on entry.

Latest updates:

  • Face coverings are compulsory from tomorrow, Friday 24 July, across England in enclosed public spaces. Find out more about exactly where these rules apply, after some confusion, courtesy of the BBC.
  • The UK Government will make more announcements on international travel next week and is working on a package of measures for the airline sector, the transport secretary Grant Shapps has said (TTG).
  • Since lockdown has gradually eased all over the world, localised spikes have followed, and the threat of new restrictions loom – particularly cities such as Barcelona and Rome (Telegraph).
  • According to new figures, a backlog of more than 400,000 passport applications has accumulated due to disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis. This means many Brits’ travel plans are being delayed (Express).
  • Leisure travel will rebound quicker than business travel and agents and travel management companies will become more important than ever as people start to fly again, according to Virgin Atlantic’s sales chief (Travel Weekly).
  • Virgin Atlantic has resumed passenger flights after a three-month hiatus, this includes routes from Heathrow to Hong Kong, New York, and LA (Travel Weekly).
  • The Republic of Ireland has released a “green list” of 15 countries that travellers can visit without having to self-isolate for 14 days on their return – but Great Britain, Spain and France are excluded (Travel Weekly).
  • Customers who have traditionally booked direct are turning to travel agents for assistance with future holiday plans and help processing operator refunds, according to Tony Mann, director of Idle Travel (Travel Weekly).
  • The number of TTG Travel Agent Tracker respondents taking summer 2020 bookings surpassed 40% for the first time last week as agents continue to capitalise on the resumption of international travel (TTG).
  • A survey from GlobalData showed that only a third of UK consumers (excluding those in Scotland) have visited non-essential shops since they re-opened in June; UK online spend is forecast to rise by over £15bn this year with 55.9% of consumers spending more online as a result of the outbreak; and 51.7% of UK consumers do not expect their daily lives to return to normal until the end of 2020 (PR Newswire).
  • Shoppers will favour local stores as life gets back on track, despite more than half of Brits being worried that their finances will be severely affected, new YouGov stats reveal. 64% of people want to support local businesses and buy local products, while 39% of shoppers say they will have a more environmentally friendly mindset when out shopping as a result of the pandemic. Over a quarter of UK adults (28%) say they’ve been spending more online, and a third (32%) say they intend to make more use of online shopping or delivery (Retail Week).
  • Media are seeking UK and European destination/product news and openings, health & safety measure updates, data/trend stories and travel story ideas. Staycation content remains popular, as does content about the countries that are exempt from the 14-day quarantine period.
  • Media are seeking expert comment from travel companies regarding their new safety measures, trend predictions, sales and booking data, etc. Strong booking data is getting good cut-through at the moment.
  • Travel teams are still very small, with most publications putting a large percentage of their staff on furlough, and some beginning to make redundancies. For example, The Telegraph have made many in the branded content team redundant, while The Guardian have confirmed they will be letting go 12% of their workforce (including editorial staff).

Social media:

  • In case you missed it late last week, a Bitcoin scam socially engineered its way into the Twitter backend and took over some of the site’s biggest accounts — like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and somehow not Donald Trump — to run a crypto racket. The attack was brief but generated $300,000 before the tweets were deleted. Find out more about the details of the hack here.
  • Snapchat has had a strong Q2, adding 9 million daily active users (DAU) for a total of 238 million DAU with a 17% jump in revenue. Most of these new users are in ‘Rest of World’ regions outside of the US and Europe — particularly India, where Android use is huge and Snapchat has been optimising for non-iOS users. They’ve also begun rolling out brand profiles in a bid to attract new advertisers.
  • Instagram’s launched a test of personal fundraisers on Android devices in the US, the UK, and Ireland with iOS to follow soon. Users have raised more than $100 million for COVID-related causes this year while donations on Instagram in the US have doubled in the last month. Expect to see a few fundraisers in your feed as the pandemic looks set to linger into 2021.
  • The story around TikTok’s barely even about social anymore and is almost entirely geopolitical — the UK has banned Huawei involvement in the Kingdom’s 5G network so TikTok’s decided not to establish its new global headquarters in London. They’ve also pulled out of Hong Kong because of that whole situation. Australia’s wondering aloud whether TikTok should be allowed to collect user data and the US has just banned the app from all government-issued devices as they demand the closure of a Chinese consulate in Texas. South Korea’s also fined the company $150,000 for collecting personal information of minors and sending that information overseas — something the US also did to the tune of $5.7 million early last year.
  • Like Reddit a few weeks ago, Twitter’s begun cracking down on right-wing conspiracy groups, this time particular QAnon. Given that it’s an election year in the US, expect a lot of social media news over the next few months to get super political. Platforms are already facing accusations of dismantling democracy so they’re doing everything they can to level the playing field and root out insidiousness hidden behind relative anonymity.
  • Unrelated to politics for a change, Pinterest (not held responsible for destroying democracy, thankfully) have released new COVID search trends. Would you believe that terms like ‘meditation’, ‘positivity’, and ‘gratitude’ are all higher than ever? Amazing.
  • Instagram’s also really committing to the e-commerce place, with some users experiencing a new Instagram layout that inserts a ‘Shop’ tab into Explore. You’ll have seen products appearing across your Feed for a while (products can even be tagged in copy too now) and later this year you’ll see a new Shop tab in the navigation bar at the bottom of the app for easy browsing. If you’re selling anything online, setting up Facebook and Instagram Shopping is actually quite easy — especially if you’ve built your website on a recognised e-commerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce — so get ready to take advantage. Don’t forget that Facebook takes a cut of your sales (like any payment provider) this way though.

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