One outcome from the pandemic is a significant increase in our online activity. According to new research, more than half of online users increased their digital activity throughout the last year.

Despite this significant increase in online activity, the digital disparity between people in the UK in 2021 has deepened.

The latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index found that 53% of people feel they would not have coped during lockdown without being able to go online.

60% of those surveyed said they had more positive times throughout the pandemic, thanks to their digital tools.

The number of people who are not using the Internet decreased during the pandemic, but 5% are still not online.

Wales and the East, South West and North East in England have the highest proportions of still offline people.

For people who are not digitally connected, 39% are under 60, and 55% earn less than £20,000 a year.

The study found that 55% of the online population has increased their Internet use during the pandemic, with users spending an average of 13 hours online more each week than before.

Internet users have become more engaged, with 90% making online purchases, up by 8% on a year earlier. 27% said they spend more impulsively when shopping online.

Individuals spent an average of £1,800 more on their online shopping over the last year and checked their online bank statements an average of 49 times a month.

There is a growing use of mobile devices for accessing online banking, with smartphone use rising from 59% last year to 65% this year.

The study also considered our financial lives during the pandemic, where the impact was significantly negative or positive, depending on circumstances.

In 2020, 34% of people had the financial reserves they needed to cope for more than three months if they suffered a financial shock or suddenly lost their regular income. This proportion increased to 42% in 2021, as 4 million people in the UK have more savings than they did before the start of the pandemic.

However, three in ten people reported feeling financially overwhelmed, and 30% of 18 to 29-year-olds with the highest levels of digital engagement said their sleep had been disrupted by money worries.

Women feel less financially secure than men, with 57% of women feeling on track to meet their future financial needs compared to 64% of men.

The study also found that 60% of people are now focusing on becoming debt-free and reprioritising their daily spending habits.

Stephen Noakes, Managing Director, Retail Transformation, Lloyds Bank, said:

“The impact of the past year has brought to the forefront just how much we now rely on our digital skills to manage our day to day lives. Digital engagement is increasing across the country with a significant increase in those who are using the Internet, now 95%, up from 92% last year.

“Whilst this is hugely encouraging to see, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the other 5% (2.6 million people) who are still offline which in many cases is exacerbating some of societies existing vulnerabilities, which is where more needs to be done to tackle this digital divide and help those still locked out post lockdown.

“While the pandemic may have cast some uncertainty over our finances, it is encouraging that this has focused people’s attention on saving, becoming debt free and reprioritising how their money is spent.”