The cost of not being online

4th July 2014

I don’t know if you saw the news or listened to your local radio station this week, but we made a few headlines with our report which showed that without the internet, you are likely to spend an average of £440 extra on goods and services than those who are online.

According to figures, compiled for Keep me Posted by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, there are many reasons why, all adding up to what can be a substantial figure.

People who don’t shop online can spend an average £175 extra on food every year – what with the cost of travelling to the supermarket, or if you don’t have transport, paying the often higher charges from the local shop, who just can’t discount in the same way. Then there’s the difference in energy charges – everyone is told to shop around to find the best deal, but it’s very hard to do that without going on to a price comparison site. And the lower tariffs seem to be online-only deals, which of course you can’t access without a computer.

Shopping around is also much harder for electronic goods, again because those with internet access often compare prices on screen and then head for the cheapest store. Without it you physically have to go to the shop – and if you’re trying to get a price from several places, which could be some distance apart, that’s a soul-destroying trek, especially if you find that the first place you looked had the best deal. And we all know how we feel about having to fork out for bills and statements!

Keep Me Posted was challenged about whether this meant everyone should be helped to get online, but a significant number of people have never, and probably will never access the internet. Many of those will be elderly or disadvantaged, and the research revealed the impact on them is even greater – they are typically out of pocket by around 5 per cent of their household income. In fact, if you’re in the bottom 10 per cent income bracket – where the average amount coming into the household is around £128 per week – then that’s more than three week’s worth of money!

 

It’s about time there was fairness – starting with not being charged for paper bills and statements which is adding to this extra cost.

Judith Donovan