Ofcom's Online Nation 2021 report shows that UK adults spent more time online (via computers, smartphones or tablets) in 2020 than people in Germany, France or Spain.
It was an unprecedented year, when the coronavirus pandemic saw an increase in people relying on online services for communication, entertainment, culture, shopping, work and study. However, the average time spent online per user per day only increased by 9 minutes year-on-year.
The annual report from the independent regulator and competition authority for UK communications notes that adults in the UK spent 3 hours and 37 minutes online each day in 2020. That’s over an hour longer than people in Germany or France and 30 minutes more than Spain – but an hour less than adults in the USA.
Figures from September 2020 show that internet usage via smartphone is almost four times greater than online access on a computer: UK internet users spent an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day online via their phones but just 37 minutes on a computer.
Overall, the UK’s online shopping bill increased by 48% from 2019 to nearly £113 billion last year. (The previous four years had seen an average annual increase of 13%.) During lockdown in March 2020, 35% of all retail spending was taking place online – up from 20% in 2019. Spending on and in mobile apps during 2020 was up to almost £2.45 billion, with Tinder, Disney+, YouTube and Netflix generating the most income.
A sizeable minority of households still have no internet access via fixed-line or mobile devices: in March 2021, 6% of homes – around one and a half million – had no way to get online.
Full details of the report can be viewed online at ofcom.org.uk