Britain Loves To Shop Online More Than Any Other Nation, Says Ofcom

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

Follow on: Google +

According to a survey by the communications watchdog, UK is one of the most Internet-enabled countries in the world

An average UK resident spends over £1000 a year shopping online – more than in any other country in the world, according to a survey by Ofcom published today.

According to the 2012 International Communications Market Report, per-head spending on the Web has risen 14 percent in a year from 2010 to 2011, thanks in part to the growth of the mobile device market.

The survey also found that British consume more mobile data than in any other developed country, and lead the way in catch-up TV adoption.

World records

The per-head spending on e-commerce in the UK grew from £950 in 2010 to £1,083 in 2011. Australian consumers spent the second highest amount online – £842, and Swedish were third, with £747.

“We have a long history of catalogue shopping in the UK, and as many daily activities are increasingly carried out online, the Internet has become the new destination for many shoppers,” commented James Thickett, director of research at Ofcom.

According to the campaign management and analytics firm SDL, this Christmas 54 percent of overall spend will go through websites, and just 40 percent will be spent in-store, with the remainder left for mail orders and TV shopping channels.

SDL said that during the holiday period, nearly ten percent of online shopping will be done through a smartphone or tablet. This trend reaffirms fears that Internet stores could kill the High Street.

“There are retailers that have picked up on this potential early, integrating mobile shopping apps, virtual fitting rooms and using social networking sites to influence purchasing decisions,” said Tony Grace, COO at Virgin Media Business.

“New high bandwidth connectivity options for UK retailers are available to implement ideas and tactics that’ll tempt shoppers away from the keyboard.  However, there’s clearly room for even more creative use of technology to influence and help customers make up their minds.”

According to the Ofcom survey, 58 percent of the British public own a smartphone, and for six percent it is the preferred method of going online. Almost a quarter (23.1 percent) of smartphone owners use their device to visit retail websites – the highest level out of the five largest European countries.

By 2011, one sixth of all website traffic in the UK passed through a phone, tablet or other connected device, the highest rate in Europe. Four in ten UK adults now use their mobile phones to visit social networking sites. This trend is even higher among 18-24 year olds, with almost two thirds logging into Twitter or Facebook from their phone.

As a result, UK consumers are downloading more stuff on their mobiles and tablets than any other major nation – in December 2011, the average UK mobile phone chewed through 424 MB of data. In Japan, this number stands at 392 MB and in the US – just 319 MB.

UK remains the cheapest developed country for communication services, such as mobile and fixed phone, TV and broadband. The survey has also found that British consumers love catch-up and on-demand TV more than Americans or Japanese, with almost a quarter of Internet users claiming they use services like BBC iPlayer, Sky Go and 4OD every week.

Have some festive fun with TechWeekEurope’s Christmas quiz!