RealTime IT News

Report: UK Web Users Still Wary of Shopping Online

A new survey shows that less than a third of Internet users in the UK have made purchases online, with 64 percent of men and 80 percent of women yet to place an order.

The figures, from the latest wave of Fletcher Research's UK Internet User Monitor, show that British women are still not eager to shop on the Internet. Current speculation about the explosion in online shopping in the UK this Christmas may be premature, the company said.

While more and more Britons came online in 1999 (30 percent of the 15 million with Internet access did so this year) a high proportion are still cagey about making online purchases, according to the October 1999 survey of more than 50,000 Internet users.

Concerns about security continue to be a barrier to buying online with 50 percent of those polled responding that they are unhappy about giving their credit card details to online vendors.

However, UK users are increasingly using the Web as a research tool to make more informed online and off-line purchasing decisions.

The products that have been most heavily investigated online tend to be goods or services that cannot be experienced beforehand, Fletcher said.

Travel and holidays, books and CDs are popular choices for both men and women, while computers remain popular, but a largely male domain.

According to the UK Internet User Monitor, 60 percent of UK Web users are men, but the male bias is decreasing across all ages. Now the ratio of men to women is 3:2, down from nearly 2:1 in December 1998.

Among Internet users over the age of 55, women are increasingly coming online, accounting for 33 percent of that age group, up steeply from a mere 19 percent in May 1999.

Just under half (40 percent) of UK Web users have a degree compared with the national average of 12 percent.

Banner advertising is effective, but unpopular, the survey found. Fifty-nine percent of Web users have clicked on ads, and 34 percent say ads are irritating.

Users prefer online classified ads to the traditional newspaper format, the survey found. Fletcher Research is a UK new media research company, specializing in producing data and reports on the UK Internet market.

Recent reports include Dream Machines: Selling New Cars Online; Internet Access Strategies; The UK Internet Survey 1999; Window Shopping? A Study of UK Online Retailing; Online Advertising Strategies and Sterling Services: A Survey of UK Personal Finance Online.

Fletcher Research was acquired by Forrester Research in November 1999, and after a four to six-month period of transition will be branded Forrester UK at the end of the second quarter 2000.