- Data shows that home entertainment such as online streaming, gaming and gambling has increased significantly during the UK lockdown.
- 1 in 4 UK adults has felt down and lonely during the isolation period.
- We gain insights into spending on entertainment and correlations with mood to see whether how we’re spending money during lockdown could be giving us the serotonin boost we need and why.
On the 23rd of March 2020, the Prime Minister’s message to the UK public was apparent - ‘Stay at home. Save lives. Protect the NHS’. And that’s exactly what we had to do.
From precisely that point on the British public switched from socialising in pubs with friends and family to virtual quizzes and Zoom calls. In a short space of time, many of us had to adapt to spending more time at home than we ever had before - baking cakes, reading and binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix to keep us entertained.
While most of us have adapted our lives, our spending and our priorities have shifted also. And with more money being spent on things like online streaming services, eGame shops and gaming subscriptions and online casinos and bingo - it bears the question - why?
What’s changed throughout lockdown?
1. Online streaming services
Online platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video and Now TV have seen increases in the number of transactions by up to 62% per brand. As well as this, newcomer Disney+ couldn’t have been released at a better time to keep children and adults alike entertained as one day after the lockdown was announced, their online streaming platform was launched.
- Netflix (↑6%)
- Disney+ (↑∞)
- Now TV (↑15%)
- Prime Video (↑62%)
*Number of transactions
2. Online casinos and bingo
While live sports events and betting took a hit as many events and games were cancelled due to lockdown, other gambling websites such as casino and bingo sites reported an 87% increase in the amount being spent overall. While it is unclear as to whether or not people who would usually bet on live events suddenly made the switch - the industry did see a huge difference in their revenue over lockdown when compared to the previous period.
- Mecca Bingo (↑47%)
- Jackpot Joy (↑351%)
- 888 Games (↑546%)
3. Gaming consoles and eShop subscriptions
More time at home meant more gaming for avid and even more casual gamers, as eShops and subscriptions saw a massive increase of 19% in the amount being spent on PC and console games. Hardly surprising since in addition to lockdown happening, many long-awaited game releases happened, including - Animal Crossing, Resident Evil 3 and The Last of Us: Part II.
- Nintendo (↑230%)
- XBOX (↑95%)
- Playstation (↑32%)
How has the pandemic affected our spending priorities?
The industries most impacted by the lockdown mainly involved days out and leisure activities including cinema and theatre tickets, transportation costs and eating out expenses. And while these some of these industries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic have managed to bounce back with help from things such as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme; entertainment has and continues to be on the up. Along with buy now pay later, home improvements and DIY, as well as bikes and biking accessories have seen an increase in popularity.
While it isn’t hard to see why exactly we’ve spent so much money on entertainment while we’ve been left to our own devices - is there another reason behind it? What’s the correlation between these three industries, which means they’ve seen more of an increase in sales more than others?
Being isolated from friends, family and even work colleagues can be alienating - especially for those who were self-isolating at home by themselves. For many, the lockdown left us feeling down and lonely, as the Mental Health Foundation reported that around 1 in 4 UK adults admitted to feeling lonely during lockdown - showing the impact on mental health.
From the data collected, it doesn’t take a far stretch of the imagination to see that many of us sort mean of entertainment in serotonin-boosting activities, such as gaming, gambling, shopping and video streaming to help us feel a bit better about our circumstances.
- Statistics on Spending Habits During the UK’s Lockdown - What Does This Tell Us About Our Finances?
- How has lockdown affected the popularity of buy now pay later in the UK?
What is serotonin and how does it relate to our spending during lockdown?
So what’s the correlation between these you might ask? Well, serotonin, or the happiness chemical as you might know it, is a neurotransmitter chemical associated with feeling happy and also with events such as newness and winning, both of which are related to both gaming, gambling and in many cases even watching new TV shows on Netflix.
Lack of serotonin, i.e. those dreaded unhappy feelings, can be associated with lack of activity and boredom, meaning that lockdown could be leaving many of us with an intense craving for a well-needed boost - and that’s where those gaming purchases and casino games start to come in.
Therefore watching a show you’ve never seen before, receiving a new item of clothing or furniture for your home, winning a round of bingo or even a game against someone online can boost your serotonin levels, giving you the exhilaration rush you feel you may desperately crave during a period of inactivity.
How have businesses adapted to these changes?
With the demand for online streaming services and online gaming on the rise, for most - an increase in the way we’re keeping ourselves entertained during the pandemic provides little need for businesses to adapt - as they’re already online.
However, with online gambling, many are concerned with the impact that an increase in gambling will have on many individuals. There have been concerns that an increase in the number of people using online casinos will result in amounting debts and addiction and could leave many struggling with their finances as they try to gain back their losses the pandemic has settled them with. As many could turn to gamble as a way to chance to get enough money to pay their bills.
In response to concerns, the Gambling Commission in the UK has instructed ‘tighter online gambling measures to protect consumers during lockdown’. Issuing tighter affordability checks as well as ensuring there are restrictions on bonus offers and measures to prevent reverse withdrawals.
What do I do if I have a problem with online gambling?
While some can gamble responsibly, others may struggle - especially in times of a crisis, in particular those who are recovering from an addiction to gambling who find it difficult spending more time at home and resisting the temptation.
*Sample data taken from anonymous Fablious open banking data, from 324 users over the period of 12/11/2019 until 23/03/2020 compared to 23/03/2020 until 02/08/2020.
**Buy now pay later sample data taken from anonymous Fablious open banking data, from 351 users over the period of 20/05/2020 until the 02/08/2020.