With speculation about how and when lockdown will end, new research shows that the number one priority for people in Harrogate after Covid-19 restrictions ease is to give family and friends a hug.

A third of people from the area said hugging a loved one is the thing they are most looking forward to, compared to only 3.8% who want to head to a pub or bar, and 7% who want to go shopping.

Over a quarter (27%) of people in Harrogate are looking forward to going on holiday, with 13.5% hoping to go on a UK break and a further 13.5% wanting to travel to Europe.

And other top activities respondents said they are looking forward to doing include going to a restaurant (5.8%), children going back to school (6.5%) and heading to a music festival or gig (4.5%). Additional responses included going to the gym, a trip to the hairdressers and visiting elderly relatives.

13.5% of people are most looking forward to a post-lockdown holiday

The research, which questioned 2013 people across the UK and was carried out by Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists, found over half (53%) of people in Harrogate want to be more spontaneous and experience more things in life once lockdown is over. Over half (55%) stated they now value experiences more than materialistic objects and 70% said the pandemic has made them appreciate spending time with family and friends more.

According to the research, the pandemic has been a period of reflection for many in Harrogate, with nearly a third (32%) reevaluating their career plans and aspirations, and 35% wanting to make changes to their relationships.

For some, it’s also made them more charitable with 16% volunteering to support charities during lockdown and 27% donating more money to good causes compared to before lockdown. Two-fifths of people in the area said they have noticed a greater level of community spirit in their local area, and 45% have seen people act kinder.

A spokesperson for Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists, which has a practice on Parliament Street in Harrogate, said:

“The last 11 months have been a struggle for us all, but through the difficulties we’ve all faced there have been some wonderful acts of kindness and for many people it’s made them realise what’s most important to them.

“We carried out this research to see how the pandemic has impacted people’s outlook on life, and it’s touching to see how it’s the little things that we once took for granted – hugging and spending time with loved ones – that we’ve missed the most.

“With 22 local practices across the UK, including in Harrogate, we work hard to integrate into these local communities and we’ve seen first-hand just how much people have gone out of their way to help each other and show kindness during the pandemic. With spring around the corner, many of us are looking ahead to more positive times, but hopefully we can continue to show appreciation to those special people and experiences in our lives.”

What are Harrogate residents most looking forward to doing when lockdown eases?

  • Hug family or friends – 33.55%
  • Go on holiday (UK) – 13.55%
  • Go on holiday (Europe) – 13.55%
  • Not looking forward to anything in particular – 9.03%
  • Go shopping – 7.10%
  • Children going back to school – 6.45%
  • Go to a restaurant – 5.81%
  • Go to a music festival or gig – 4.52%
  • Go to a bar – 3.87%
  • Other – 2.58%

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.