Life in lockdown: Record numbers go online for essentials and experiences

  • Lockdown prompts 30 per cent surge in virtual experiences from films to fitness
  • One in four make donations to charity online
  • Hair clippers, dumbbells and books among most popular Lockdown products
  • 65 per cent of people worried about online fraud or ‘scamming’

Online shopping has outstripped all other forms of spending over the past month, with more than half of European shoppers (57 per cent) saying they are shopping online more than ever and record numbers signing up to virtual experiences like home fitness classes, TV and film subscriptions and online learning during lockdown.

The research from Mastercard revealed that one in three Europeans (30 per cent) are spending more money on virtual experiences, with almost two in three (58 per cent) watching TV or films through an online subscription service, more than a quarter (26 per cent) ‘attending’ exercise classes online and 24 per cent virtually visiting museums and other places of interest.

According to the research, the times we are living in have also made us more generous with more than a quarter (28 per cent) saying they have donated to charity online in the last month and 14 per cent donating for the first time.

People across Europe are also using the extra time indoors as an opportunity to learn new online skills, with almost two in five (37 per cent) starting to bank online, more than a quarter (28 per cent) learning how to manage their health and get their medicines online and a third (31 per cent) learning to cook through online tutorials.

One in ten (10 per cent) are learning to code, seven per cent are using the internet to help them learn to play a musical instrument and 14 per cent have followed online guides to cut hair!

As well as a 36 per cent increase in people shopping for essentials online, some of the most popular trends include notable spikes in buying books (32 per cent), hair clippers (19 per cent) and fitness equipment like dumbbells and yoga mats (13 per cent).

The research revealed that online shopping habits also seem to mirror real life behaviours, with four in five (81 per cent) typical in-store bargain hunters spending hours searching different sites to find the best deals and two in three (66 per cent) self-confessed window shoppers saying they regularly create wish lists but don’t always buy.  Half of new online shoppers (51 per cent) say they remain loyal to real life counterparts.

Almost everyone (87 per cent) is careful about what and where they shop online, with 65 per cent saying they worry about becoming a victim of online fraud or ‘scamming’. In a bid to maintain payment safety online, four in five Europeans (81 per cent) tend to stick to familiar retailers, 80 per cent check site or buyer reviews and a third (31 per cent) will contact new or unknown sellers before purchasing.

Mark Barnett, President, Europe at Mastercard said:  “We are all adjusting to a new way of living and are understandably shopping more online, though it’s not just for essentials but for virtual experiences ranging from films to fitness too. Tough times can bring out the best in us and we can take comfort and heart from the increases in people donating online and the huge numbers of people learning new ways to manage their day-to-day lives online. Now more than ever people need access to the digital economy and all of us at Mastercard are constantly working to make the online shopping experience more simple, seamless and secure for everyone, whether you’re shopping for essentials or experiences.”


  1. Books (32 per cent)
  2. Cooking utensils (22 per cent)
  3. Hair colouring (19 per cent)
  4. Board games (18 per cent)
  5. Puzzles (17 per cent)
  6. Hair clippers (15 per cent)
  7. Computers / equipment (13 per cent)
  8. Pillows (13 per cent)
  9. Dumbbells / Fitness equipment (13 per cent)
  10. Arts & Crafts (12 per cent)


  1. 75 per cent are regularly doing video calls with family, friends and work colleagues
  2. 58 per cent have an online TV/film subscription like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video
  3. 36 per cent are watching virtual comedy or stand-up online
  4. 32 per cent tune into online music gigs
  5. 31 per cent are playing video games online
  6. 30 per cent are doing cooking classes or following recipes online
  7. 26 per cent are taking part in virtual fitness classes
  8. 24 per cent visiting museums or places of interest online
  9. 22 per cent are learning a new language online
  10. 20 per cent do quizzes with friends online

Mastercard’s top tips for keeping safe online

  • Choose secure webpages: Only pay for goods online via a secure webpage. Secure pages will begin with ‘https’ and will feature a locked padlock symbol in the browser
  • Keep your details safe: Never send your bank or credit card details via email, text message, social media or over unverified phone calls
  • Update your security protection: Make sure you update your security protection for whichever device you plan on shopping with, whether it be your phone, laptop or tablet
  • Trust your instinct: If you see an offer online that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Always do your research if unsure

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