Three-quarters of us now shop online

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THE “ONLINE marketplace” has changed shoppers’ habits, as three quarters of Britons now turn to the internet to do their shopping, new figures reveal.

Around 38 million adults, 76 per cent, go online every day - more than double the number of people who did in 2006, and two million more people than last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It has charted the growth of the internet as a part of our daily routines, as it is increasingly used for everything from catching up with the latest news, to watching films and playing games, checking bank balances and transferring money, booking a holiday and shopping around for the best deals.

Some 74 per cent of Britons shop online, up from just over half in 2008, with clothing and sports goods found to be the most common purchases, followed by household goods such as furniture and toys, travel arrangements such as train tickets and car hire, booking hotel rooms and tickets for events.

The ONS said the use of the internet as a “market place”, alongside advances in technology, has changed the habits of consumers and firms, with people living in the UK and Denmark being the most likely in the EU to make online purchases.

Bradford-based retailer Babycare now sees around 60 per cent of its sales made online.

Manager Claire Saunders said selling online gave them the opportunity to have a greatly expanded range, and said technology enabled shoppers to be more “savvy”.

“Customers in the shop are able to Google items on their smartphones and compare the price elsewhere,” she said. “As a business, it makes you a lot more aware of being competitive.”

So-called “showrooming” has grown in recent years, with 73 per cent of people admitting to looking at an item on the high street and then go online to see if they can get a better deal elsewhere,

The research found that men are more likely to shop online than women, and people aged between 25 and 34 the most likely age group to shop online, with nine out of 10 people now doing so.

Tablets and smartphones are also leading to the growing convenience of the internet, with a sharp increase in people accessing it “on the go”.

Some 58 per cent of people have used their mobile phone to go online in the last few months, more than doubled that of 2010.

The ONS said the use of laptops and tablets has also seen a growth in uptake, and that the “affordable prices of tablets” and their “user friendly” features are likely to have contributed to the large increase in use.

Internet banking, reading and downloading newspapers and magazines have also seen large growth.

Downloading films, music, games or images online is also more popular - with double the number of adults carrying out such activities since 2007.

The ONS said: “The internet is a resource for new services such as Google Play, iTunes, and streaming services such as Netflix and LoveFilm.

“It has never been easier to watch a film online, listen to the latest album releases or download games to mobiles, tablets, desktops or consoles.”