Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 13:25 UK

Fear holding back online shopping

Online shopping
Online shopping has risen in popularity in recent years

A lack of consumer confidence is preventing online retailing from reaching its full potential, according to a watchdog's report.

Almost a third of internet users are not shopping online because they do not trust the system, the report by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) claimed.

Personal security was high on the list of concerns.

Meanwhile, a banking analyst has claimed that internet-only savings accounts are offering better returns.

David Black, of banking consultancy Defaqto, said that average interest rates for a £1,000 deposit in an instant access savings account would be 0.49% with a branch-based account, but 1.48% with a internet-only account.

Online sales

The OFT said that one in five internet users who chose not to shop online failed to do so because they were worried about personal security.

Savers need to be aware that just because an account is internet only does not automatically mean that it is a good deal
David Black, Defaqto

Some 15% of those who turned down the chance of internet shopping said they did not trust the retailers.

"Online retailing is the future for many businesses and increasingly important to the economy," said OFT chief executive John Fingleton.

"If consumers are not confident online, demand will grow at a slower rate. So we must tackle these concerns right now if the online market is to grow at its full potential."

However, the figures show that consumer confidence is growing compared with three years ago.

Among the people who do shop online, 54% felt it was as safe as shopping in store, compared with 26% in 2006.

"UK consumers buy almost twice as much over the internet compared to their European neighbours," said Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas.

"It is encouraging that the OFT's survey shows increasing consumer confidence when buying online - but people still have concerns."

Banking changes

Mr Black, principal consultant for banking at Defaqto, said that similar fears over security - as well as a lack of internet access - meant people were missing out on better returns.

Returns on savings have been cut dramatically as account providers have mirrored falls in the Bank rate.

Mr Black said that introductory offers being offered on accounts meant savers could get a better deal by switching accounts.

"However savers need to be aware that just because an account is internet only does not automatically mean that it is a good deal. There are examples of internet only accounts that are paying as little as 0.10%," he said.

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