U.K. Residents Travel More for Shopping than Commuting, Reveals 2022 Survey

Date:


Key Takeaways

  • Shopping emerged as the primary purpose for English residents’ travel in 2022, surpassing work commutes.
  • Work-related travels increased from 2021 but remained lower than pre-pandemic levels, potentially influenced by hybrid work models.
  • Driving remained the dominant mode for longer trips, reflecting a notable increase in vehicle ownership.
  • Men traveled longer distances and cycled more, while women made shorter shopping trips. Age impacted travel habits, influencing activities like accompanying individuals to school and visits to friends.

English residents’ predominant travel purpose is shopping, outpacing work commutes, as revealed in the National Travel Survey.

A release published by the UK Government and a subsequent Forbes article noted that in 2022, shopping trips were the most common purpose for travel, with residents making an average of 151 trips per person.

This reflects a 14% rise from 2021, though it’s a 16% drop from 2019 figures.

Work-related commutes were the second most frequent travel purpose.

While there was a 19% increase from 2021, the 119 trips per person in 2022 still represent a 15% decrease from 2019. The hybrid working model could be influencing this trend.

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69% of commuters from urban areas (excluding London) used cars outside London. This figure rose to 84% for rural residents.

Travel Distances and Methods

The release noted that in 2022, 26% of trips were under a mile, and 71% were less than five miles.

For journeys over a mile, driving was the predominant mode.

Walking trips increased by 7% compared to the previous year despite other transport modes experiencing a decline since the pandemic.

Vehicle ownership has surged, with 12 cars for every ten households in 2022, up from eight in the mid-’80s.

Demographics and Travel Patterns

Men typically traveled longer distances but made fewer trips in 2022 than women. They drove more and cycled significantly more than their female counterparts. However, women made more shopping trips, which were generally shorter distances.

Age influenced travel habits. For instance, individuals aged 30 to 49 were most likely to accompany someone to school, with women doing so more than men.

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For visits to friends, there was a noticeable decline for all individuals up to age 59, after which the number of visits stabilized.

About the National Travel Survey (NTS)

The 2022 NTS is the latest household study detailing personal travel trends among English residents.

Collected via interviews and seven-day travel diaries, the data sheds light on evolving travel patterns since the 1960s. 

The survey is vital for monitoring travel trends, assessing equality impacts across different groups, and evaluating policies.

The statistics of this survey are designated as National Statistics, meeting high professional standards.

What We Think


Understanding the evolving travel patterns highlighted in the National Travel Survey is pivotal. The surge in shopping trips and altered commuting behaviors, likely driven by hybrid work arrangements, signifies a shifting landscape.

These changes necessitate agile policy responses that cater to diverse travel needs while considering environmental and societal impacts.

Policymakers must harness these insights to craft efficient transport strategies, ensuring they remain adaptable and inclusive for all demographics. Embracing these shifts can pave the way for more sustainable and accommodating travel frameworks aligned with the evolving preferences and demands of English residents.

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