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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 08:53 GMT
Consumers flock to online shops
Shoppers out and about on a high street
Online shopping can be less hassle than the High Street
Online buying habits have changed dramatically in the last five years, a survey has found.

Of 2,000 web-using Britons interviewed a whopping 94% had bought something online, the survey found. This compares to just 37% five years ago.

Half of those interviewed believed that 40% or more of their purchases would be done online in five years time.

The figures suggest that online retailers will prosper during the run-up to Christmas.

The research reveals that many consumers are surprised at the speed with which they have taken to online shopping.

Almost three-quarters, 74%, of those questioned said they used the net much more now than they thought they would.

Many said there was still more they could do online and expected to use the net to do more shopping and organising in the future.

94% have bought online compared to 37% five years ago
67% surprised by how much they use the internet now
Nearly half think that 40% of purchases will be online in five years time
74% say internet usage has soared
85% buy more often now than five years ago
96% believe the internet has made it easier to buy goods and services

Christmas frenzy

James Roper, chief executive of the Interactive Media in Retail Group, said the results broadly tallied with research his organisation had done.

Mr Roper said that there were around 18 million UK adults, 45% of the total, who have bought something online. About 12 million of these people were regular internet shoppers.

Those that do buy online, he said, had healthy budgets.

"On average they spend about 100 a month, although this rises to 400 at Christmas," he said.

Research firm Forrester predicts that this Christmas European online spending will exceed that in the US for the first time.

The frenzy around Christmas online shopping has already begun and internet buying is becoming the norm outside of the festive season as well.

IMRG predicts that one third of shopping will be done online over the next two years.

Buying a piece of the moon

Broadband will be an important factor in this.

"We expect half of all home to have broadband in the next two years and having broadband means people shop online," said Mr Roper.

Both IMRG and the YouGov survey agree that consumer confidence in online shopping has greatly improved.

The moon
Fancy buying a slice of the moon?

The survey was commissioned by Direct Line to coincide with the fifth anniversary of directline.com.

"Direct Line has seen massive increases in online traffic - as much as 75% from 2002 to 2003 which reflects attitudes highlighted in our research," said Justin Skinner, e-commerce spokesperson for the company.

96% believed that the internet had made it easier to find and buy goods and services.

The convenience of online shopping has led people to make some unusual purchases, the survey found.

These include an acre of land on the moon, two kilograms of worms and a vampire killing kit.

The research was conducted by internet polling organisation YouGov on behalf of insurance company Direct Line.

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