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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 13:14 GMT
UK tracks US in online shopping
Person shopping on Tesco website
Online shoppers should still check before they click
UK online spending is set to double this Christmas - matching US habits - thanks to higher take-up of high-speed internet services, a survey has said.

A total of 43% of UK consumers are expected to shop online, while 46% of Americans are expected to do the same, Retail Decisions said.

Last year, 21% in the UK and 31% in the US shopped online, the internet fraud prevention firm said.

The increase in internet shopping comes despite a rise in online fraud.

Retail Decisions has predicted that potentially suspicious internet transactions will rise 46% this year from 2003.

Fraud fears

The firm also forecast that internet fraud will rise further in the new year, partly due to the introduction of chip and pin payments on debit and credit cards.

1 - Flights/holidays
2 - Hotel stay
3 - Book
4 - DVD/video
5 - CDs
6 - Clothes
7 - (Joint) Computer games and toys
8 - (Joint) iPod/MP3 player, flowers, mobile phone accessories and alcohol and food
9 - PC or laptop
10 - Shoes/trainers
Source: Retail Decisions

The new chip and pin measures should cut fraud in store transactions. This could force fraudsters to turn to environments where cards do not need to be present, such as internet or telephone ordering, where they will be able to use skimmed or stolen cards.

"Websites often say they are protected when all they mean is the payment card details are scrambled," said Carl Clump, Retail Decisions chief executive.

"Whilst this limits the ability of hackers to access these card details, it is only part of the fight against payments fraud."

Armchair shoppers

However, despite the expected surge in online shopping, the internet is not the only beneficiary of the boom in home shopping - UK consumers are also more likely to shop by mail order or telephone.

Retail Decisions' poll found 26% of those surveyed in the UK intend to shop by mail order - compared with 18% of Americans.

Meanwhile, 26% of Britons expect to make some purchases by phone, while just 20% of US shoppers intend to do the same.

Research conducted for Retail Decisions by NOP also found that more UK shoppers plan stay at home and browse for items on interactive TV.

The amount of people shopping from the comfort of their armchairs around the UK will more than double from 2% last year to 7%, NOP found.

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