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Wales Residents Spend An Extra £2,149 As They Increase Time Online

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People in Wales have, on average, spent an additional £2,149 each on online shopping in the past year, the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index has revealed.

A third (31%) of people in Wales said the Covid-19 pandemic had made them more likely to make purchases without thinking about future implications, with residents making, on average, 31 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. More than half (53%) of people across the nation report to having increased their internet usage, with nine in ten (92%) anticipating that their new habits will continue in the long-term.

But despite the uptake in time spent online, one in eight (13)% of people in Wales are still offline, having not used a desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet in the last three months – the highest proportion in the UK nations and regions.

Nicola Bannister, ambassador for Wales at Lloyds Banking Group said:

“Almost half of people in Wales admitted that they wouldn’t have coped during the last year without the internet. And it’s clear that many have embraced online shopping and have used social networking to keep contact with friends and family.

“Being online is increasingly important in a more connected world. But Wales has the highest share of ‘offline’ residents of any part of the UK, which raises concerns that many in the country are missing out on services that support mental and financial wellbeing.

“While a choice for some, being offline can often be down to a lack of understanding of digital tools. That’s why we’re improving access to training through our Academy, with free courses available to Welsh residents.”

Despite the rise in online shopping, the pandemic has made many more people in Wales careful with their finances overall. More than half (53%) 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*, more than nine in ten (91%) now manage their money online and almost six in ten (60%) feel more in control of their day-to-day finances now than they were a year ago.

The research also found that half (53%) of Welsh 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 (26%) saying they feel stressed or overwhelmed by their financial situation.

Nicola continued:

“I’ve been talking a lot recently about the link between financial difficulty and mental wellbeing and have been encouraging anyone experiencing financial difficulty to speak to their bank or other organisation such as Stepchange or the Mental Health and Money Advice Service as early as possible.

“I know that people don’t always like to talk about money problems but it’s a vital first step to getting help. We are already helping customers back to financial health and have over 6,500 colleagues trained to support customers to build their financial resilience. Through our Digital Academy we can help people develop their digital skills and manage their money online, which we know can help to support financial wellbeing.”

Case study

Cardiff based Karen Walters, 59, was always confident in her digital abilities from her work with a housing association but the last year has made her more inclined to manage her finances digitally and to buy goods online.

Karen said:

“I am quite techie anyway. I suppose that's because I still work full-time and you have to have degree of computer skills, but it's certainly improved over the last 12 months, we've had to become more digitally savvy.”

Living alone, lockdown left Karen feeling isolated. But by being online, she managed to keep in touch with family and friends through virtual quizzes hosted on Zoom. And she also kept in touch with fellow Cardiff Blues Rugby Union supporters through Facebook groups.

Karen has also learnt how to better manage her money through having to use online banking more in lockdown.

“You can log in and see all of your money in once place. In September during lockdown, I transferred one of my ISAs housed somewhere else into my Lloyds Bank account as I didn’t want things scattered all over. You can see exactly where you are,” Karen continued. “I would probably write a cheque sometimes and pop that in the post. That's gone, it's not required.”