People in the South East of England have, on average, spent an additional £1,596 each on online shopping in the past year, the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index has revealed.
A quarter (25%) of people in the South East said the Covid-19 pandemic had made them more likely to make purchases without thinking about future implications, with residents making, on average, 28 more online transactions in the past 12 months.
The extra online spending comes as more people turn to the Internet for goods and services in lieu of visiting the high street. More than half (57%) of people across the region reported to having increased their Internet usage, with more than nine in 10 (94%) anticipating that their new habits will continue in the long-term.
But despite the uptake in time spent online, almost 4% of people across the region are still offline, having not used a desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet in the past three months.
Michelle Blayney, regional ambassador for the South East at Lloyds Banking Group said: “The past year has seen many people rely on the Internet, be it to stay in touch with friends and family or for entertainment. For some, it’s been an easy change to make with half admitting they wouldn’t have coped through lockdown without it. But being online is about more than just keeping in touch, it can help people to manage their finances, pay bills, and get better deals on their shopping. So, it’s worrying that there are residents who are still offline. We want to change that and get everyone online so they can access services and feel safe doing so too.
“That’s why we’ve made free digital-skills training available to everyone through our Academy and have 20,000 regional digital champions on hand to help people access online services. By supporting each other we can help everyone to access online services and unlock the benefits of being online.”
Despite the rise in online shopping, the pandemic has made many more people in the region careful with their finances overall. Almost three in five (59%) say the experience of the pandemic has changed their priorities and they are now more focused on being debt free.
In line with the growth of online banking, nine in 10 (91%) now manage their money online and over half (53%) feel more in control of their day-to-day finances now than they were a year ago.
The research also found that almost half (46%) of residents in the South East think the steps they have taken to manage their finances in the past year mean they can now enjoy their lives more. However, many are still feeling the pressure on their household finances, with almost a third (29%) saying they feel stressed or overwhelmed by their financial situation.
Blayney continued: “Since the start of the pandemic we’ve all experienced big changes, whether that’s to our social or working lives. For some people, reduced outgoings have meant they can save more, but for others the situation has put a lot of pressure on already stretched household finances. As part of our commitment to helping with the recovery, we’re here to help people with their financial goals, be it saving more or building more financial resilience. We have more than 6,500 trained colleagues who can help customers and have made our Academy available to anyone who wants to learn new skills and better manage their money.”
Kent-based based Paul, 69, has been using the Internet during the pandemic to do his online banking, access online support groups and keep in touch with his grown-up children.
“Before the lockdown I used to visit my bank branch but now I do everything online or over the phone to limit contact with others – and because it’s so convenient. I’ve also been able to purchase Premium Bonds and keep a closer eye on my finances, so I feel in a much more comfortable financial position.”
Paul has also been using the Internet during the pandemic to access online support groups, which have positively impacted his mental well-being.
“It could have been very lonely if we were just stuck here in the house. Having FaceTime and Zoom was a brilliant thing too – it meant I could still see my three-month-old grandson. I wouldn’t revert to the way I was doing things before. I think I’ll continue building on the skills I’ve got, so I can be less reliant on my children and more independent.”
About Lloyds Bank Academy
The Lloyds Bank Academy was set up to increase the UK’s productivity and bridge the digital divide, providing free UK-wide face-to-face training, virtual events, and online resources. Launched by Lloyds Bank in 2018 and supported by partners including Upskill Digital, Google, Job Centre Plus, the Academy has helped over 100,000 small business owners and consumers. Its curriculum is focused on helping individuals, charities, businesses, and communities to improve their skills and confidence, promoting their social mobility and productivity in both work and life. During the Covid-19 pandemic the Academy has pivoted to place focus onto building new training and creating online events for small businesses. These provide dedicated online training, the ability to hear from experts and virtual networking for small businesses and charities. Our Academy will train people by providing essential, workplace and specialist skills. The Academy is open to everyone, easy to follow, and completely free.