UK consumers are a nation of online shoppers

UK consumers are a nation of online shoppers

UK consumers are a nation of online shoppers, with more consumers in Britain using the internet for shopping than other major countries.

Ofcom’s sixth International Communications Market report also shows UK consumers watch more TV online, use their mobiles more to go online, and play more games on their phones.

The report - which looked at take-up, availability, and use of broadband, landlines, mobiles, TV and radio in 17 countires - also revealed that British consumers pay less for their communications than many other people across the world.

Despite the economic downturn, global communications revenues grew by 3.4 per cent last year compared to 2009, mainly fuelled by growth in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and China.

The report found that one in eight (79 per cent) people with internet access in the UK ordered goods or services on the internet last year - higher than any other European country. British internet users were also more likely to visit retail websites than people in other countries, with nine in 10 (89 per cent) claiming to do so this year.

Smartphone ownership nearly doubled in the UK between February last year and August this year, from 24 per cent to 46 per cent, higher than other European countries surveyed. And the number of people using their mobiles to go online was also higher in the UK, with nearly half (46 per cent) of people with internet access using their phones to go online in October. This was higher than all other countries surveyed, Ofcom said. In addition, British consumers were more likely to play games on their phone, with 34 per cent doing so, compared to 16 per cent in France.

A quarter (25 per cent) of UK mobile users accessed news content on their mobiles, significantly higher than other European countries. But they were less likely to use the internet to make phone calls than other countries. Just under a fifth (19 per cent) of UK broadband subscribers used services such as Skype to make internet phone calls, compared to 28 per cent in Italy and 26 per cent in France.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Across the globe people are embracing e-commerce and social media with enthusiasm. Our research shows that the UK communications market is performing well with prices, the range of services and innovation standing up well against international benchmarks.

"There are also issues which we will monitor carefully, such as the future roll-out of 4G mobile services. We are pressing ahead with plans to release this valuable spectrum at the end of next year which will enable new mobile services for consumers," Richard said.

Elsewhere in the report, more people said they watched TV online every week in the UK compared to last year, and UK consumers are more likely to log on to social networking sites on a mobile than in other countries. A total of 43 per cent said they did so, compared to 30 per cent in the United States.

UK social networkers say they have fewer online "friends", with an average of 168 compared to 198 for Americans and 216 for Italians, but more than the French (108) and Germans (137).

The report found that more advertisers were flocking to the internet across the world, with the UK leading on the total amount of advertising spent online (29 per cent), almost double the level for global internet advertising (15 per cent).

UK online advertising spend last year was almost the same as TV advertising (30 per cent), a rise of 16 per cent, the report added.

It also found that the prices UK consumers pay for their communications services compare favourably with other countries.

Ofcom examined the prices of a typical basket of services, consisting of fixed-line phone, mobile phone, broadband and pay TV, for five household types.

It compared the prices available to consumers in the UK in July this year with those in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United States.

Overall, Ofcom said the UK offered the lowest prices for all five baskets based on buying services individually and four of the five baskets when including multi-service bundles.

In addition, the price of mobile phone services in the UK was 36 per cent lower than in the next least expensive country, France, and was 10 per cent lower than the previous year.

However, the cost of low-use mobile phone services, such as pay-as-you-go, increased in the UK between July last year and July this year, Ofcom said.

Further reading:

Read Ofcom's sixth International Communications Market

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