UK shoppers spend more online than any other country in the EU, a recently published study has revealed.
According to the latest online spending figures from Visa Europe, total UK online sales figures for the second quarter of 2004 were nearly twice that of the same period in 2003, an increase of 99 per cent.
European online sales doubled since this time last year with the UK now accounting for nearly 70 per cent of overall internet expenditure with Visa cards.
Visa's research indicates that its cardholders in the UK spent over £2.4bn on the internet during the past quarter, more than 12 times that of nearest market competitors Italy and Germany, and over 20 times that of France.
Despite continuing to lag behind the UK in terms of online sales volume, all the major European markets experienced healthy e-commerce growth year on year.
Italy showed the biggest growth (146 per cent) while Spain (118 per cent) and France (115 per cent) also more than doubled their internet spend. Germany, one of the larger e-commerce markets outside the UK, experienced 69 per cent growth over the year.
Hugo Bottelier, vice president of Visa Europe, said: "The growth in internet shopping over the past few years has been exponential.
"Year on year, quarter on quarter, sales have increased steadily across the region and across all sectors. The UK continues to dominate the market, but other countries are beginning to catch up.
"The potential for market growth in e-commerce is huge. We predict that these figures will carry on rising throughout Europe for some time yet."
A key driver across the region was identified as the travel and entertainment industries. Consumers booking airline tickets over the web more than doubled year on year.
Online rail and coach bookings were up over 100 per cent on last year, with internet reservations for hotels also doubling.
Internet sales in the retail sector have also grown, Visa said, particularly in the area of online grocery shopping and CD and book sales, both of which have more than doubled compared to last year.
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