Half of UK population are e-shoppers

Over half of all British adults are now shopping online, according to a new report from UK internet shopping and retail organisation IMRG.

Fifty one per cent of UK adults had bought goods via the internet in the past three months, the majority at supermarket sites which are growing 50 per cent faster than any other type of web commerce, the report said.

The proportion of the UK population shopping online hit 50 per cent for the first time in February, and reached 51 per cent in March.

"It is only 10 years since the very first consumer broadband connection was made available, just days after the dotcom bubble burst and most of the business world concluded that e-retail was hype and finished. Since then the value of UK online shopping has grown more than 6,000 per cent," said James Roper, chief executive at the IMRG.

Roper explained that the survey, which was conducted with the British Population Survey group, was the first to take regional and social information into account.

"Relatively little detailed information about [shoppers] has been available until now in terms of how their age, location and social demographic influences their behaviour. The British Population Survey provides a wonderful new window on the world of e-commerce," he said.

The companies are to produce an E-shopper index that takes this information into account and offers a detailed national view of web shoppers for retailers.

The index will include information about how consumers search for items, and how they behave when online, which may prove invaluable for marketers.

For example, mobile shopping is set to become an increasingly important part of consumer routines.

"Recent technology developments, particularly in the area of 'roaming' access via laptops and handheld devices, are clearly playing a part in the development of the availability and convenience of online shopping services," said Mike Hare, research director of the British Population Survey.

"This has been particularly evidenced by an increase in laptop ownership from 34.15 per cent of households in March 2008 to 53.03 per cent in March 2010."

The IMRG said that just under 76 per cent of the population of the UK has access to the internet.

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