East householders spend extra £1.8k online during pandemic, study shows

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East of England consumers are spending hundreds of pounds more online during the coronavirus crisis than previously, a study reveals.

The latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index shows people in the East spent an extra £1,827 each on online shopping in the past year — but there has also been a focus on paying off their debts.

At the same time, one in four (27%) people in the region admitted to making “splurge spending” decisions — with more than half (51%) spending more time on the internet since the outbreak, the index found.

More than a quarter (27%) of people in the East said the pandemic made them more likely to make purchases without thinking about future implications. On average they made 28 more online transactions in the past 12 months. 

And nine in 10 householders in the East (93%) believe their new habits will stick.

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However, 8% of the region’s residents are still offline — and haven’t used a desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet in the last three months.

Matt Hubbard, regional ambassador for the East of England at Lloyds Banking Group, said it was “vital” that the region invests in infrastructure and help people improve their skills. Some did not have access — either because of lack of digital skills or poor connectivity, he pointed out.

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“For a lot of people going online for things like shopping feels easy and convenient, and 86% of people say the internet has helped them to connect better with friends and family in the last year. More than half have admitted they wouldn’t have coped throughout the pandemic without it,” he said.

Despite the rise in online shopping, the pandemic has made many more people in the region careful with their finances overall. More than half (59%) say the experience of the pandemic has changed their priorities and they are now more focused on being debt free.

The survey found that more than nine in 10 (92%) people now manage their money online and almost six in 10 (57%) feel more in control of their day-to-day finances than a year ago. 

Nearly half (47%) of residents in the East of England thought steps they have taken to manage their finances in the last year mean they can now enjoy their lives more. 

But many reported their household finances were under pressure with more than a quarter (29%) feeling stressed or overwhelmed by their financial situation.

Lloyds has set up an “academy” of experts to help those experiencing financial difficulty to build their resilience and develop skills to give them more control over their money. More than 6,500 of the bank’s staff have been trained to help customers who are struggling. 

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