UK global leaders in online shopping

High levels of trust in online retailers and the way products are advertised on the web boosted UK online retail spend to £1,175 per head in 2012, up 16 per cent year on year, according to figures from Ofcom.

online shopping

The growth means the UK leads the world in online shopping, with spend £307 higher than the second biggest spender, Australia, and more than double the average £560 spend per person across the 17 countries measured, says Ofcom. The figures are based on data from the IMRG, the industry association for online retail sites.

Ofcom also surveyed 9,070 UK consumers in September and October, finding that almost three-quarters of UK shoppers buy items online at least monthly and 24 per cent do so weekly. The regulator said this is because British shoppers trust online retailers more than consumers in other countries, have greater confidence in the security of online shopping and trust the way products are advertised.

Almost 8 in 10 UK consumers are confident that online advertising is accurate, with the majority also trusting online retailers in other areas including delivery and security of paying for products.

Online spend is expected to boost retail sales in the run-up to Christmas. Deloitte predicts that total retail spend will top £40bn this year, up 3.5 per cent year on year, while online will rise by almost a fifth to hit £5bn.

The UK also had the biggest spend on mobile internet advertising, up by almost £5 to £8.04 per person and pushing it above Japan for the first time. Ofcom attributes the rise to the increasing penetration of smartphones and tablets in the UK and growth in search, in-app and Facebook advertising.

Social networks were among the most searched-for terms online, with “Facebook” topping the list in 14 out of the 17 countries surveyed. “Instagram” was the fastest growing term in the UK, US, Canada and Ireland.

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