BERLIN: Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular in Germany, as consumers appreciate the ease it offers and are reassured by consumer-friendly laws, an industry organisation has said.

BITKOM, the trade body for IT, telecoms and new media, analysed data from Eurostat, the European statistics agency, to assess online shopping within the EU, with online shoppers defined as persons who had ordered goods or serves over the internet in the 12 months preceding the survey.

It noted that two thirds of German citizens had shopped online during 2012, up from 53% in 2008. In addition, this was well above the current European average of 45%.

"Online shopping in Germany is following in the tradition of successful mail-order businesses, with outstanding international logistics, short delivery times and a high level of consumer protection," declared BITKOM president Dieter Kempf.

Easy and secure payment methods also helped. A recent survey found most online shoppers paid on account (58%), just over half (52%) used online payment services, while 46% paid by direct debit. In this respect, Germany differed from other countries where bank cards were the most popular payment method.

German online retailers also benefited from popularity with shoppers in neighbouring Austria.

Northern Europeans, especially Scandinavians, were significantly more likely to be e-shoppers. Norway topped the rankings with 76% of citizens there having bought online during the previous 12 months. Then came Sweden (74%) and Denmark (73%).

The UK was similar to Denmark, on 73%, followed by Luxembourg (68%), while the Netherlands and Finland joined Germany on 65%.

The picture was very different in Southern and Eastern Europe, however, where internet usage has generally been lower and economic downturn more severe. So, 31% of Spanish citizens had shopped online, a figure which fell to 17% for Italy and just 5% for Romania.

A study last year for G2 EMEA, part of global brand activation network, noted clear disparities in the attitudes and behaviours of West and East Europeans towards digital media. For example, those in the West valued the internet for its practical benefits such as online shopping, while those in the East valued the entertainment potential more.

Data sourced from BITKOM, PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff