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Thursday, September 16, 1999 Published at 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK

UK: Wales

UK online shopping doubles

The UK government offers advice on online shopping

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

Which? Online, the Internet arm of the UK Consumers' Association says online shopping has doubled in the past year based on the results of its annual survey.

Chris Nuttall: "Shopping on the net has finally taken off"
It suggested one in ten Net users are now buying online and they are no longer nerds. Books, flights and holidays have taken over from computer hardware and software as the most popular products being sold.

The survey of 2,000 people across the UK suggested that consumer confidence about shopping online increased the longer they had been surfing. Fifty-eight per cent of those who had been online for more than two years had bought something, compared to only a quarter of those connected up in the past year.

Online numbers booming

It is estimated that 10 million people are now using the Internet in Britain. The fast rate of adoption fuelled by subscription-free services means almost 40 per cent of those have come online in the past twelve months.

But the high cost of phone calls continues to limit the amount of time spent online it appears: three-quarters of users surf the Net for five hours or less a week and visit on average 13 websites a week. More than a quarter said they would like to see faster downloading times.

E-mail is still the killer application: more than half those questioned said they regularly sent messages to friends and family while one in five long-term users said they preferred e-mail to any other form of communication.

"It's very encouraging to see an increase in consumers' confidence online and that shopping via the Internet has become a more positive experience," said Alan Stevens, editor of Which? Online.

"The increase in online purchases of holidays and flights show that those consumers are now seeing the benefits of shopping via the Internet, saving both time and money."

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