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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 08:46 GMT
Europeans live life online
Woman shopping online
People are shopping from the comfort of their desks
The internet is transforming the social habits of Europeans according to a study by internet service provider AOL.

The study looked at the online habits of surfers in the UK, France and Germany.

Window shopping is being replaced by work shopping, with nearly a third of Europeans admitting to doing their online purchasing in the office.

And a third said they used the office computer to look for holidays.

Online flirting

The net is taking the stress out of shopping, as 28% report shopping in their pyjamas.

There is no mistaking the profound impact the internet is having on our social norms
Philip Rowley, AOL
But it is in the area of personal relationships that the online world is creating the most profound change in how people behave, the study found.

One in two people online in Europe has asked someone out on a date via e-mail and excuses such as 'I lost your e-mail' are increasingly being used to avoid unwanted attentions.

Nearly half of Europeans says they have sent or received an e-mail only invite to a party or social event.

A third only provide their e-mail address when they meet someone, compared to 19% who provide their telephone number.

And more and more people are announcing life-changing news such as the birth of a baby, a wedding or a new job online.

"The study brings home the powerful effect that the online medium is having on people's lives," said Philip Rowley, President of AOL Europe.

"It is transforming how they come together, organise their social lives and even share personal news. There is no mistaking the profound impact it is having on our social norms," he said.

Virtually everyone online in France, the UK and Germany use e-mail to communicate with friends and family. And a third say it has helped them find or reconnect with someone they had lost touch with.

UK escaping online

45% expected to increase online purchases in next few years
49% sent or received an e-mail party invitation
46% have been asked out on e-mail or instant message
44% send news via e-mail
28% shop in their pyjamas
27% search for own name in Google
48% look for a job online
The survey also revealed interesting regional differences in how people use the internet.

Germans it would seem love a bargain, with nearly 40% using online auction sites.

UK surfers are more interested in escaping the often dreary English weather with 56% booking holidays online.

In France, surfers are keen to embrace new technology with 80% preferring to book online rather than by traditional methods.

Whatever the preferences of individual nationalities, all Europeans are spending more money online than ever.

On average European consumers spent a 300 each during the period August to October 2002, rivalling US surfers who spent an average of 370 during the same period.

"Almost 50% [of Europeans] expect to increase their level of purchasing in the next few years. Shopping online is emerging as a truly mainstream activity in Europe," said Mr Rowley.

The AOL study interviewed 1,000 internet users in the UK, France and Germany.

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15 Apr 02 |  Science/Nature

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