Online Christmas shopping soared in 2001

More than 10 million UK surfers browsed online for Christmas presents in this year - almost half as many again as the previous year

More than 10 million Britons visited e-commerce Web sites over Christmas -- an increase of three million on the number of online shoppers in December 2000. The 10 million online shoppers accounted for nearly 70 percent of the UK Internet population.

The figures, released in a study published by Internet research firm NetValue on Tuesday, put Britain way ahead in the online retail market in Europe.

Of the 10 million, nearly three million people made a secure connection. This was an increase of nearly one million over the number of purchases made online during Christmas 2000. A secure connection implies that a user's credit card details were entered online, suggesting that a purchase was made.

According to the NetValue report, the UK now has the highest visitor to purchase conversion rate of any European country. Twenty-nine percent of British customers visiting e-tail sites in December went on to make a secure connection, while just 6 percent of Italians visiting shopping sites, and 8 percent of Swedes, were enticed into doing so.

Scandinavia failed to live up to its reputation of leading the way in e-commerce by demonstrating very low online sales figures in December 2001. Only 40 percent of the Swedish Internet population visited online retailers throughout the Christmas period.

The NetValue study discovered that the average British woman spent longer on the Internet at home than the average man online in December 2001. Although men had more separate online sessions, the average female spent five minutes longer on the Internet during each session.


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