How Online Shopping Statistics Have Evolved

3 Minutes

A recent study has predicted that online consumer retail spending in the UK will reach £52.25 billion in 2015, representing an increase of 16.2% on the final 2014 figure of £44.97 billion.

This equates to almost a sixth of all retail spending and works out at an average individual spend of £1,174, making the people of the UK the most frequent online shoppers across the whole of Europe. Shopping habits have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades with online shopping gaining in popularity year on year.

Many retailers believe that this rise in online shopping is being driven primarily by the younger generation. However, recent research has demonstrated that this is not necessarily the case. Younger people still retain a preference for the physical, tactile shopping experience while the older generations are in fact choosing to make a larger proportion of their purchases online.

Here we take a look at a few of the statistics of online shopping habits as defined by age group and by geographical location.

Shopping Habits by Age Group

The younger generation, being 16-24 years of age, are statistically more likely than any other age group to use their mobile phones to research a purchase (38%), to consult social media before making a purchasing decision (8%) and to make a purchasing decision based on online video content (15%). However, youth culture also promotes visiting the high street and studies of buying behaviour have shown that there is no indication that the younger generation will ever switch exclusively to online shopping and in fact continue to enjoy visiting stores to browse and to touch the products before buying. The narrowing of price differences between online and offline products also contributes to a shift back towards the high street.

Over 55s are the group most likely to use the internet for price comparisons before making a purchasing decision (68%) and more than two-thirds of this age group that use the internet will go online every day. However, the older generation has more conservative buying habits and tends to stick to products or brands rather than being swayed by online advertising. While many older people have concerns over security, the convenience and stress-free nature of shopping online often trumps visits to the busy high street or supermarket.

35-44 year olds are the group most likely to switch between multiple devices when browsing online, using computers, smartphones and tablets in order to fit internet browsing into a busy work and family life. This time-poor age group is also the one most likely to purchase online (53%). Those in the 25-34 age bracket are those most likely to utilise search engines and almost a third of these will use the internet to look for reviews, opinions, product descriptions and advice before making a purchasing decision.

Online Shopping Habits by Region

China sees the most online shopping activity of any country globally, with 96% of a population of almost 1.4 billion shopping online at least once each month. In Europe the UK has the most frequent online shoppers, followed by Germany and France. The average spend per head in the US in 2014 was the equivalent of £1,043 compared to £1,071 in the UK. British citizens are also far more likely to use the internet for grocery shopping than anywhere else in Europe – 16% compared to an average of 3% across Europe.

While online shopping may be increasing in popularity, it seems that large numbers of people still prefer to be able to see and touch goods before purchasing. Those retailers that have the brightest future are therefore those that are able to successfully marry an online presence with physical high street stores, enabling customers to choose the style of shopping that suits their time, budget and lifestyle for each purchase.