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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
Buying online 'to rise and rise'
Computer user
More people are comfortable with online shopping, the report says
Internet shopping in Wales is rising and is set to continue its increase, according a consumer report.

The study found online sales rose by 20% last Christmas and one in four people who use the internet said they expected to do more shopping online.

The Welsh Consumer Council said the growth in broadband connections and word-of-mouth recommendations had encouraged more people to buy online.

It said internet shopping sales were now worth 14.5bn a year across the UK.

The Cardiff-based consumer body also said that traditional stereotypes of internet shoppers were wrong, and that its report found that men aged 45 and over were the most likely to buy online.

Three-quarters of the 1,001 people it interviewed for the study said the main reason they used the internet to shop was because they found it convenient.

Half of this proportion, 77%, said they used internet shopping to achieve value for money or lower prices than the high street.

Music CDs, tapes and records and DVDs, videos and computer games between them account for more than 80% of the products chosen, while books and travel tickets have each been bought by 37% of online shoppers.

Grocery shopping

The convenience of online shopping has made it particularly popular in rural areas of mid and west Wales, said the consumer council.

Report author Sarah Richards said: "The proportion of people who have shopped online has increased from 55% of people with internet access to 61%.

"What is also interesting is the kind of people who are shopping.

"People may assume that the majority of internet shoppers are young people downloading music, however our research shows that men aged 45 and above are the most likely to shop online."

Haydn Blackey, principal lecturer in marketing at the University of Glamorgan, said there had also been an increase in online grocery shopping by blue-collar families with limited access to transport.

He said: "There is some evidence to show people who would have to pay for a taxi home from a store would prefer to pay a 5 delivery fee for their goods. It's cheaper."

Mr Blackey added that internet users in rural areas such as Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire often chose to shop online because of the range of goods and services available to them.

He said: "All the evidence is that (online shopping) will continue to grow faster, probably over the next two decades. As more people get more comfortable with it, more will switch."

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