The Nation’s Secret Online Browsing Behaviour

New research from Gener8 shows how dramatically the UK’s online browsing behaviour has changed since the start of lockdown. Most notably, adult content spiked at a 292% increase when the government enforced the lockdown.


Shortly after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced a pandemic, the number of unique people visiting health and wellness sites peaked at an increase of 74%. Equally, these people were spending 71% more time than usual on these sites. By April 13th, the time spent had decreased to 13% lower than the baseline, however two weeks later this increased to 69% above baseline, suggesting people intermittently dip in and out of the content. This is hardly surprising as there is constantly new information.

Gamers and Their Fans

From looking at 31,663,224 page views from 3,617 users, online browsing habits showed even more time on gaming sites than pre-lockdown. Specifically, watching other people gaming; for example, Twitch peaked at 179% more than usual. The time spent playing games increased by 98%.

Sectors on Pause

Unsurprisingly, with travel a distant memory, time spent on travel websites has decreased massively, with a decrease of 74%. Airline websites, booking engines and accommodating sites all suffered the same drop in traffic. Live sport is also a sector that has been on pause. This was reflected in the online browsing habits of gambling sites. Time spent gambling decreased by 69% since pre-lockdown.

Thoughtful Gifts

People are also spending significantly more online browsing time sourcing and purchasing personalised gifts. This peaked at 60% above usual and page views were up to 46% higher than the baseline before lockdown. This perhaps suggests people are putting more thought, time and effort into staying connected to loved ones and friends; especially as they are unable to physically be together.

Hiding from the News

The earliest stages of the pandemic showed a 64% increase in traffic for news outlets. However, this gradually decreased as the months went on. In fact, by May, people were spending 19% less time on news sites than they were pre-lockdown, suggesting potential information fatigue.


Many have used this time to learn a skill or start a new hobby, a trend reflected in Google searched. “How To” has become a popular search topic with everything from “how to make a face mask” to the more philanthropic “how to volunteer”. There was also a record search for “how to make pizza”, suggesting that people were maybe missing their pre-lockdown restaurant fix. Sam Jones, founder of Gener8, says that these massive changes in online browsing behaviour can allow businesses to take stock of what is going on in their sector. Through that, they can “identify and adapt to long-term changes in consumer behaviour”.