Time spent online surges during COVID-19 outbreak

Posted on: Monday 04 May 2020 | IAB UK

Latest UKOM data for January-March 2020 shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our online usage 

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Whether you’ve been following breaking stories via news notifications, or turning to social media to stay up-to-date with the latest, we know that we’re accessing online resources more during the COVID-19 pandemic - a trend compounded by the fact that the majority of us are searching for ways to stay informed and entertained while at home. 

UKOM’s latest data charts the changes in online usage during the first three months of 2020; from when the virus started to take hold in Wuhan, to the early days of the UK’s lockdown at the end of March. See below for some of the key insights and to download the deck in full: 

  • Total time spent online increased by 8%, with 18-24s and over 55s both up by 12% (March vs Jan)

  • There has been big growth in unique visits and time spent across government content (+19% unique users, +43% time spent) and educational resources (+6% unique users and +39% time spent) 

  • Social networking, instant messaging and news sources saw the biggest increase in minutes added - there was a total of 9 billion more minutes spent on social media in March vs Jan

  • Online news saw strong growth with total minutes up 28% and an increase of 103 minutes per visitor 

  • Political news and business/finance news both seeing an extra 7 million unique visitors across the three month period 

  • Online grocery retail saw strong growth, with unique visitors up 9% and a 48% increase in minutes spent on sites 

Follow up insight will be available from UKOM in the coming weeks looking at UK online audience behaviour in April, a full month spent in lockdown. Download the Jan-March report below. 

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