Online retail therapy helps consumers beat Covid blues

online shopping 20Online shopping has proved one of the best consumer therapies against the worst excesses of the Covid pandemic, beaten only food and friends and family as a way of battling mental health issues.

A new study by content monetisation network Digidip, conducted by YouGov among more than 2,000 Britons during lockdown, reveals that more than half (52%) of Brits said their mental well-being has worsened over the past year, with only 8% saying it had improved.

Similarly, 49% said the pandemic had made them lonelier, with only 5% less lonely.

When it comes to the gender divide, females have fared worse, three in five (60%) have decreased mental wellbeing, compared to 45% of males.

London has the greatest decline across all regions; 63% of inhabitants feel their wellbeing worsened during lockdown, and almost two-thirds (59%) feel more lonely, the highest rate of any region.

The research shows a clear link between worsening mental wellbeing, and increased online shopping, with over a third (36%) of respondents whose mental wellbeing worsened during lockdown turning to online shopping as a coping mechanism. This is compared to just 12% of those whose mental state remained unchanged.

A third (33%) of respondents who became more lonely during lockdown also used online shopping to help relieve it. By comparison, of those who did not feel any more lonely, just 14% turned to online shopping.

When asked to identify methods used to combat stress and loneliness during lockdown, “calling friends and family” (41%), and eating (34%) proved the most popular, followed by online shopping (23%), alcohol (22%), and exercise 21%.

Overall, males were less proactive about countering stress; more than a third (36%) did not use any particular methods to combat it, compared to a quarter (24%) of females.

Almost a third (30%) of respondents have done ‘significantly more’ online shopping during lockdown, compared to pre-Covid. However, for respondents who were ‘much more lonely’ during lockdown, this rises to almost half (42%).

One in ten UK workers (9%) currently spend more than 45 mins per day browsing for or purchasing items online (during working hours and excluding breaks). This is equal to 15 hours per month spent online shopping during working hours – or more than two full working days. Almost a quarter (24%) spend between 15 and 45 mins per working day shopping online.

However, more than a third (37%) of respondents feel that online purchases have brought them a sense of happiness over the last year. This trend is higher amongst females than males (42% vs 32%), and amongst younger individuals: 59% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 53% of 25- to 34-year-olds. This drops to just 24% for those aged over 55.

Asked how they plan on doing the majority of their shopping over the next year, a third (33%) of respondents expect to do it online, while more than half 51% will do the bulk in-store.

Digidip chief executive and founder Sabrina Spielberger said: “The past year has been incredibly tough for many people; holidays have been cancelled, bars and restaurants closed, but online shopping has allowed people to find small amounts of gratification while struggling.

“While we anticipate a large number of people heading back into physical stores, the last 12 months have undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of ecommerce and online shopping across generations and demographics.”

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