It’s been a long time since many of us could cuddle our nearest and dearest, while we’ve been trying to keep each other safe but from 17th May, cautious hugs are to make a welcome return. This follows the launch of Bear, the AO teddy to provide the nation with much needed hugging practise before the real deal, after new research from the electricals retailer revealed that the UK is a nation of ‘huggers’ with almost two thirds admitting they have missed physical contact during lockdown.
The pandemic has got everyone missing interaction with friends and family and almost half of Brits (46 per cent) would typically describe themselves as a ‘hugger’. Prior to restrictions, they usually enjoyed two hugs a day with more than a quarter of us more likely to hug others post-lockdown than ever before.
Amongst other things, being unable to hug has taken its toll on us with a third (32 per cent) considering it to be one of the hardest things about the past year.
Who can’t you wait to hug? With friends and families set to be reunited as social distancing restrictions ease, the first-person Brits want to squeeze is their children, followed by their mum and friends, while 44 per cent will even cuddle someone they previously wouldn’t have after a long time apart. Hugging has a direct effect on our wellbeing with the result of an embrace leaving people feeling happy (36 per cent), warm (35 per cent) and loved (32 per cent).
To celebrate the return of bear hugging, AO has answered the nation’s prayers in the form of a cuddly bundle of joy: Bear, the AO teddy. Across the UK, AO will be surprising thousands of families with bears during safe home deliveries throughout the summer, with a birth certificate to match. Today, giant, green teddies bearing signs reading Hugs Coming Soon are popping up in Greenwich, London and Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, as well as Glasgow Cathedral ahead of restrictions easing in Scotland this Summer, to offer hope to passers-by and symbolise that cautious cuddles are indeed making a much-anticipated return to our lives.
Donna Dawson, Psychologist, said: “It’s been a difficult year, and the lack of social interaction hasn’t made it any easier. ‘Hugging’ is that close physical embrace which we use to convey friendship and affection. When we hug someone, we are sending various messages: how much that person means to us, how glad we are to see them, and how much we have missed them.”
“With hugs, all our relationships are strengthened and re-affirmed, and we feel connected to humans again. It’s no surprise that hugging has been revealed as one of the most missed activities during lockdown and I’m delighted to see AO encouraging embracing when it’s safely allowed through its bear launch.”
David Lawson, AO.com Managing Director said: “AO is proud to have launched Bear: the AO Teddy today – to ensure this nation of hug-lovers can get some practice in before Monday’s cautious return to hugging. We know from delivering safely to front doors during lockdown that many of our customers missed social interaction with friends and family, so we wanted to remind people that they do not have to wait much longer.”
“Bears are a symbol of care and we want to show we really do, especially after such a tough year. Hugs are important for Brits, so we wanted to make a big deal out of their return with thousands of the cuddly toys set to be delivered to families throughout the Summer.”
It appears that we will never take hugging for granted again with 14 per cent couldn’t imagine saying hello or goodbye to someone without a hug, while other popular greetings were found to be a kiss on the cheek (31 per cent) and a simple wave (35 per cent). Post-lockdown, half of adults feel social interactions will be more important for relationships than ever. And 36 per cent didn’t realise how much they’d miss hugging others until it wasn’t allowed.
For more information on Bear: the AO teddy, please visit ao.com/bear