Surge in online spend as older people adapt to new norm

12 June 2020

  • 46% of all spending was completed online compared to just 28% a month earlier
  • Over 65s have almost doubled their proportion of online spend; 63% increase in online banking registration

As lockdown continues across the UK, nearly half (46%) of all transactions have been made online since strict social distancing rules were introduced*, according to new research from Halifax.

Based on spending of Halifax customers, a year ago just one in four (27%) transactions were made online as opposed to in person, a figure which remained relatively consistent up until February 2020 (28%).

The move towards online payments has been especially stark in people over the age of 65. While all age groups have increased the share of transactions they make online rather than face to face, in the oldest age category this share has doubled since lockdown compared to the same time last year (20% to 40%). Only those between 18 and 24 (27% to 52%), and 25 and 34 (29% to 51%), have seen greater increases.

Furthermore, people over the age of 65 have increased the number of online transactions by over a third (34%), the greatest increase of any age category. 55 to 64 year olds have increased the number of payments by a quarter (24%) and those aged 45 to 54 by 14%.

While these figures can be linked back to government advice aimed at a large proportion of this age group it demonstrates that people are adapting their spending to a new normal. 

Learning new ways of banking

It’s not just limited to spending online. Record numbers of people aged 65 and above are now signing up to online banking.

In the 28 days after lockdown was introduced, online registrations by the oldest age group rose by 63% when compared with the 28 days immediately before.

Russell Galley, Managing Director of Halifax, said: “The surge in online payments and demand for internet banking is primarily driven by the unprecedented situation many people currently find themselves in. When we look at this across different age groups, we have seen a much greater shift amongst those aged over 65. What will be interesting to see is whether this new norm continues when restrictions start to lift – especially for older groups who have previously carried out most of their spending in person.”

When they’re not spending online, the distance over 65s are travelling to make purchases remains closer to their home than other ages. During the week starting 13 April, the average median distance travelled to spend on debit cards, was 1.3km, compared to 1.9km for 18 – 24 year olds.

Contactless cards

Over 65s have continued to increase their contactless usage throughout the pandemic. The week before lockdown, 54% of card payments made by them were contactless. A month later, this had increased 8 percentage points to 62%.