Newly published research by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) suggests that Europe may be embracing online shopping more enthusiastically than at first thought.
The study, involving 7,000 interviews across Europe, found that 15 per cent of Europeans spent at least £1,000 online in the past year, and a third of UK respondents had purchased goods in this way.
The internet was also praised as a useful tool for non-buyers, with two out of five people using it for research before buying at traditional outlets.
"The increasing penetration of broadband provides a more sophisticated and accessible online experience for consumers," said Michael Kleindl, chairman of the EIAA.
"This is leading to greater confidence in the web and means that not only is it now seen as source for information and entertainment, but as a quick, simple and safe way to buy goods and services.
"And with Christmas on the horizon, and consumers increasingly time-pressured, it is the ideal medium to track down gifts whilst saving time and money."
Some 56 per cent of consumers indicated that they paid for their online purchases with credit cards, and three quarters cited 'convenience' as the key reason for shopping online. One in five had bought more than 16 items online in the past year.
Users in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Nordics, Belgium and The Netherlands were contacted for the study by market research firm Millard Brown.
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