Shaking someone’s hand, having a hug, walking straight into a supermarket and having a haircut are among the things Brits ‘took for granted’ prior to lockdown.

A study of 2,000 adults has discovered the things which they missed most during 2020 – and will never underestimate the value of again.

More than a third (37 per cent) never thought they would miss going to the cinema so much, and a quarter even long for face-to-face meetings in work.

Half of those polled admitted they now realise they took meeting up with friends for an impromptu meal or drinks, and get-togethers with family for granted.

The research was commissioned by PizzaExpress, whose managing director, Zoe Bowley, said: “Lockdown restrictions have been part of life for so long now.

“It’s hard to remember a time when you could simply ring up a friend and go for a meal or drink without serious planning.

“Our results found that spending time together with loved ones was sadly what we were most likely to take for granted.”

The study also found one in five adults, many of whom have been forced into a cycle of daily video calls, have gained a newfound appreciation for their broadband connection.

A quarter felt they took their hairdresser for granted pre-pandemic, while just under one in five admitted they didn’t appreciate their children’s teachers enough.

As a result, three quarters of adults said the lockdown has made them value ‘the little things’ in life more.

And just under nine in 10 vow to keep a greater appreciation for small moments of happiness, once the pandemic is over and life returns to normal.

A further three quarters even went as far as to say that prior to the pandemic, they were guilty of saying ‘thank you’ without really meaning it.

Carried out through OnePoll, the study also found half wish they could do more to celebrate the ‘unsung heroes’ of lockdown.

As a result, PizzaExpress called on the public to nominate community heroes who have gone above and beyond this year.

Following thousands of entries, 13 of the nation’s ‘unsung heroes’ were rewarded with a year’s worth of pizza as a small ‘thank you’ for their generosity.

One of the heroes, Frank Colley a care manager from South Woodford in London, also received a much-deserved bucket-list trip to a dream destination.

You can see his reaction here []

Zoe Bowley added: “If there’s one thing we think everyone will take from 2020, it’s that the little things count.

“Impromptu meals out with friends, time spent with loved ones, and the small everyday acts of kindness are what make a huge difference.

“We join the nation in hoping that the pandemic will be manageably under control as soon as possible, so people can get on and enjoy life together again.”


1. Giving someone a hug or handshake
2. Going on holiday
3. Meeting friends for an impromptu meal or a drink
4. Family get-togethers
5. Going to the supermarket without queuing
6. Being able to attend key annual events without restrictions (e.g. Halloween, Bonfire Night, Diwali, Christmas, etc.)
7. Getting a haircut
8. Going to live events (e.g. sports, comedy, music, theatre)
9. Going to the cinema
10. Seeing elderly relatives
11. The countryside/nature
12. Household essentials
13. Parties
14. Workplace banter or gossip
15. Face-to-face work meetings
16. Going to the gym or leisure centre
17. The daily commute
18. Working from the office, with the appropriate desk and chair
19. Children being at school
20. Reliable Wi-Fi or phone signal


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