• Households in the North East have spent an extra £1,670 online over the past year as one in three (31%) people across the region admit to making ‘splurge spending’ decisions
  • Almost half (46%) say their internet usage has increased since the coronavirus outbreak
  • But despite the increase in online spending, more than two thirds (65%) of people in the North East say they have focused on paying off debts during the past year

 

People in the North East have, on average, spent an additional £1,670 each on online shopping in the past year, the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index has revealed.

Almost a third (31%) of people in the North East said the Covid-19 pandemic had made them more likely to make purchases without thinking about future implications, with residents making, on average, 33 more online transactions in the past twelve months.

The extra online spending comes as more people turn to the internet for goods and services in lieu of visiting the high street. Almost half (46%) of people across the region report to having increased their internet usage, with nine in ten (94%) anticipating that their new habits will continue in the long-term.

But despite the uptake in time spent online, 8% of people across the region are still offline, having not used a desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet in the last three months.

Elyn Corfield, regional ambassador for the North at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Over the past year many people in the region made the switch to a more online life, and the internet has become their go-to for shopping, keeping in touch with friends and accessing services. A staggering 82% of people felt better connected with friends and family, with more than half admitting they wouldn’t have coped through the lockdowns without being online. The benefits are wide ranging, people are using digital skills to become more financially savvy and to manage their mental health too.

“But a lack of digital skills and being offline can pose challenges. We still have local people who are not using the internet on a regular basis and are missing out on opportunities as a result. It’s important that we help get them online and accessing services safely.

“That’s why we’re offering free digital skills training through our Academy and have 20,000 regional digital champions on hand to help people access online services. By working together, we can help everyone to feel more comfortable using the internet and help everyone to unlock the financial and social benefits it can bring.”

Despite the rise in online shopping, the pandemic has made many more people in the region careful with their finances overall. More than two thirds (65%) 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*, almost nine in ten (85%) now manage their money online and almost six in ten (57%) feel more in control of their day-to-day finances now than they were a year ago.

The research also found that half (49%) of North East residents think the steps they have taken to manage their finances in the last year mean they can now enjoy their lives more. However, many are still feeling the pressure on their household finances, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they feel stressed or overwhelmed by their financial situation.

Elyn continued: “In the past year, some people have managed to save money as their daily outgoings have reduced, but many others have faced huge financial pressures. We’re here to help in any way we can, whether that be helping customers with their savings goals or supporting people who might be facing financial difficulty back to financial health. As part of our commitment to helping Britain recover, we’ve trained 6,500 colleagues to help customers build their financial resilience. We know that digital skills will soon be as essential as English and Maths and through our Academy we’re giving people the tools they need to help them feel more in control of their money.”

Case study

When the pandemic hit, North East based Anne, 56, took the responsibility of being a full-time carer for her vulnerable mum. Having previously been a regular attendee at religious meetings, Anne’s mother had to adapt to daily online meetings during the pandemic. Anne had to master using Zoom technology herself and also improve the skills of her mother so that she could independently access these meetings.

Anne said: “Pre-lockdown, my mum was attending her religious meetings fairly frequently. And that all went on to Zoom and she had no clue. I mean, my mum’s 89 and although she’s been able to text and we have messenger where we can send pictures and things backwards and forwards. She wasn’t very au fait.

“It’s actually quite a nice thing to know that every morning she’s going on to a Zoom with some of those friends from her religious meetings. I know that she’s not isolated. And quite often if she doesn’t show up, they will call her to see if she is okay.”

In additional to helping her mum stay connected, Anne also now manages all utilities and accounts online having become more confident during lockdown.

She added: “You have the ability at your fingertips to be able to manage things. At the time when I was under a lot of stress financially, I was able to access online facilities that meant I could sort everything out without having to leave home.”