It can be easy to forget that the current high levels of internet use are part of a relatively recent phenomenon. Research from the Office for National Statistics shows that, in 2005, just 55% of households in the East Midlands used the internet. By 2017, this had risen to 87%.
Cleary, this represents a massive shift in how we live our lives. So, what exactly has changed in the region now that the vast majority of people go online regularly? We need to dig a little in order to find some of the most interesting changes that this has brought about.
The property market
The East Midlands area has become one of the UK’s property hotspots in recent times. Cities such as Leicester and Nottingham have seen tremendous growth in property sales and prices lately.
In fact, Nottingham was named in 2018 as the joint best UK city for buy-to-let investment, matching Liverpool with an impressive average yield of 6.2%, according to Private Finance.
While there are no definitive figures for how many sales are now conducted online, an article in The Telegraph estimated that around 5% of all property sales are currently handled in this way.
In addition, the vast majority of purchasers will carry out at least part of their search on the internet before deciding which houses to go and visit.
One of the effects of this is that it is now very easy for home buyers to carry out research on new areas far from where they currently live.
This may be one of the factors that have helped the Midlands turn into one of the UK’s fastest growing regions in the last few years. Anyone who is lured here by the appeal of available jobs and a growing economy can do their research comfortably at home.
The changing face of hobbies
Easy access to the internet has also had an effect on the ways that we spend our leisure time. All around the world, the ability to go online has led to the appearance of new hobbies and the transformation of existing pastimes.
How has this affected the East Midlands in particular? Sometimes, the overall effect can be difficult to judge at first sight.
Among the hobbies that have been transformed are bingo and casino gaming. Players now find it far more comfortable to play at home rather than make the trek to a local bingo hall or casino.
An example of how online gaming sites attract new players so effectively is with offers such as the 25 free spins on Betfair for new members who want to try this way of playing with no risk.
One knock-on effect of this trend is that some older bingo halls and casinos are being closed and renovated for new purposes.
In Mansfield, a former bingo club is making way for a smart new Travelodge hotel, which is expected to bring new investment to the area.
Other important changes
Of course, the internet has also changed our habits in terms of shopping, investing and even working from home. In terms of flexible working from home, the figures for the East Midlands are relatively low in comparison with the rest of the UK, although there are signs that progress is being made. The chance to work from home is likely to be available to more people here before too long.
The internet is here to stay and we can see that it has already changed our lives in a number of fascinating ways. It is now a question of waiting to see what other changes it brings us in the future.