Internet fails to entice UK shoppers

Online shopping remains a minority interest among the UK Internet audience, with no significant increase in the percentage of online users purchasing on the Net during the past few months, according to research by BMRB International.

In addition, despite a dramatic increase in the number of retail categories now available to UK online shoppers, there has been no marked expansion in the range of products purchased regularly on the Net.

According to BMRB associate director Patrick Diamond, who is also author of the company’s thrice-yearly Internet Monitor: “What comes through in the survey is that people are enthusiastic about the Internet, but are cautious about using it as a shopping channel.”

However, the rapid growth of the UK online audience overall has prompted a significant rise in the total number of consumers who claim to have bought something online in the past six months. BMRB estimates that the number of UK online shoppers grew by 600,000 to 1.9 million between December last year and April. The total turnover of consumer online shopping over the past six months is estimated at 440m.

However, despite the slow growth in the proportion of people shopping online – which now stands at about 20 per cent of all UK Internet users – Diamond insists that BMRB’s research should not be seen as an indication of e-shopping’s prospects in the longer term.

Diamond says: “The main conclusions from this attitudinal research is that there’s an evolutionary process going on. You could define Internet users as junior, adolescent or senior, depending on how long they have been using the Web. Our research shows that the longer you have been using the Web, the more in favour you are of shopping on it, and your reluctance to buy online declines.”

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