Australians are spending significantly more time online engaging with business news and information content as well as personal finance information, according to new data from Nielsen.

As unemployment becomes a significant driver change, unexpected challenges are shaping the way both consumers and businesses spend and save in the months ahead.

Nielsen found that engagement with financial news and information first spiked the middle of March 2020 in Australia, and the increase was driven by news around panic buying and the response of the major supermarket chains in deterring it through strategies such as buying limits and assigned trading hours for seniors.

“Since these initial spikes, news developments, such as falling oil prices, erratic share prices, Job Keeper and other government stimulus announcements, the longevity of heavily affected businesses and debates about the resumption of travel, retail and hospitality, have dominated the news,” wrote Lyndal Cowling, digital industry lead Australia, Nielsen.

Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data showed that since the federal government first announced stage 1 restrictions on March 23, 2020, Australians spent almost 500,000 hours per week reading financial news and information content online, a 43% increase when compared with the same period in 2019 and a 36% increase compared with the 12 weeks leading up to the announcement.

Gen Z and Millennials have recorded the highest total time spent on consuming financial news and information across business and personal finance since Stage 1 restrictions were first announced. According to Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data, Australians aged 18-24 are spending 59% more time engaging with finance content, and Australians aged 25-34 have seen a 47% increase during the same period.

These age groups are most worried about their future, as 13.6% of Australian 15-24 years-olds are unemployed according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and/or they are not eligible to receive government’s subsidies.

In March 2020, the ASX200 recorded its lowest value in over four years; however, throughout the April to June quarter, it has started to recover, with a substantial rise in price and traded volume. The recent drops in share prices have heavily impacted Australian pre-retirees, with decisions made today largely determining the frugality of their retirement. During the April-June 2020 quarter, people aged 55-64 spent 84% more time engaged with online trading content and tools.

“As the economic and financial impact of COVID-19 evolves, its effects will continue to be felt in different ways by different Australians but in particular by the younger generations,” said Cowling. “Yet even though younger consumers will be most affected financially, Aussies of all ages will continue to rely on business and financial news, personal finance and investment content online: younger generations will be more likely to look to educate themselves, while older generations will be more focused on managing their finances and planning for the future.”

Sourced from Nielsen