British buyers will spend £107bn on online shopping this year, breaking the £100bn barrier for the first time as more people than ever turn to the web to make purchases.
According to Barclaycard, the amount spent by people shopping online is increasing by 11 per cent on average per year as access to smartphones and tablets continues to rise.
A survey commissioned by Google also found that more than 30 per cent of Britons have made a purchase on a smartphone, the highest of any European nation, with 68 per cent of UK residents now using a such a device.
The Barclaycard research shows that music downloads have become the fastest-growing sector for online spending, with sales up more than 120 per cent on last year, and more than 75 per cent of all music purchases now take place online.
However the good news was tempered by a separate survey from the Government-backed Money Advice Service (MAS) which showed that internet shoppers are typically hoarding over £100 worth of purchases at home that they have never got around to using.
According to its researchers clothing, electrical gadgets and DVDs are the most common online purchases to be gathering dust in people’s wardrobes, spare rooms and garages, with many people feeling that returning these items would be more “hassle” than if they had bought them on the high street.
On average, people were found to splash out £948 a year online, but around 11 per cent of this sum, or £107 has been wasted on items which have gone unused.
Chris Wood, Barclaycard’s managing director, said: “Online shopping has come a long way since it first emerged in 1984 and now accounts for one in every £5 spent on credit and debit cards in the UK.
“More and more of us are turning to the web to research, compare prices and buy everything from cinema trips and electronics to the latest fashions, making it an inextricable part of modern retail.”
IMRG, the UK’s online retail association, says the rise of mobile devices is driving the increase in online spending, with the firm’s research showing that 45 per cent of all visits to online retailers, and 33 per cent of sales, come from smartphones and tablets.
Andrew McClelland, chief operations and policy officer at IMRG, said: “Today’s consumers are just getting to grips with the opportunities that technology brings to their everyday lives. Everything from booking a taxi through to buying a car can be done through digital channels.
“Over the next few years, internet shopping will increasingly become the norm as more of us become accustomed to researching and buying products through online stores. The devices we purchase from are also likely to change in the next few years, whether it’s through shopping online using our smart watch, or programming our smart fridges to order groceries online as soon as they’ve run out.”
Earlier this week, mobile provider EE reported an increase in the amount of people who are now ‘showrooming’, a practice where mobile users browse for deals online while examining items in physical stores on the high street. According to EE’s findings, more than 40 per cent of consumers use their device while in-store to increase their chances of saving money.