UK TV sales jump as most Brits stay at home

Mike Wheatley

There’s been a sharp rise in TV sales in the UK following the government’s order to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the order to stay at home and only go outside for essential trips two weeks ago. The order came as other measures led to many shops closing and the rise of social distancing, in which people maintain a safe distance from others.

One unintended consequence of the stay at home order has been a big jump in television sales in the UK. New data from GfK shows that during the week of March 15 to March 21, TV sales rose by 59.5% in volume, and 43.3% in value. The jump in sales was most pronounced with smaller sets of 42-inches or less, GfK said.

“Despite the jump in sales, the average price point of the overall purchases is at its lowest point seen this year,” said Kelly Whitwick, the UK retail lead for market insights at GfK. “This suggests people are buying basic models for practical solutions, rather than splashing out to enhance the viewing experience with a better model.”

According to Whitwick, families are facing a unique situation in which the entire household is forced to stay at home all day, every day, sometimes with a need to keep their distance from each other. These people often have different tastes when it comes to films and TV content, and so many have resorted to buying a smaller TV for other rooms in the home.

The short-term sales boost will no doubt be welcomed by TV manufacturers, who’re likely to feel the pinch soon enough with all the quarantine measures in place across the globe.

GfK also looked at the kind of content people are watching during the lockdown, and found that use of DVDs and Blu-ray discs rose 5% during the second week of March, and 11% the week after. Download to own content viewing also grew from 4% to 9% over the same period.

Broadcasters such as Sky on the other hand have suffered. Sky Sports saw its viewer numbers fall by 24% in the first week of March and then 20% in the second week, GfK said, due to the cancellation of most sports events.

“Given the lack of live sports content available to view at the moment, we anticipate further drops in those accessing premium sport viewing services in the coming weeks,” Sam Tuck, Associate Director of Consumer Insights at GfK. “Instead, we expect a rise in people signing up to video-on-demand platforms – albeit potentially only on a short-term or trial basis.”