NUREMBERG: An increasing number of consumers in Germany are making major purchases ranging from cars to white goods using the internet, a study by GfK has found.

The research firm surveyed 1,138 participants aged 14-69 years old in an effort to gain an insight into national attitudes and activities when it came to e-commerce.

It estimated that a total of 34.1 million shoppers in the country bought goods and services through the web in 2009, an improvement of 2.2 million year-on-year.

Within this, 15.2 million netizens made acquisitions in the travel sector, while 7.9 million engaged in peer-to-peer transactions on portals such as eBay.

Some 14.9 million individuals obtained books from online sources last year, with 14.7 million also picking up clothing and accessories in the same way.

Tickets for events followed on 12.5 million, with CDs and DVDs on 8.5 million and hotel bookings on 7.4 million.

Elsewhere, the number of people who bought a car via this channel leapt by 61% on an annual basis, with white goods up by 32% and food supplements by 23% in the same period.

Ebay was the most popular online retail service, with a visitor base of 20.3 million customers, ahead of Weltbild and Tchibo.

In terms of demographics, GfK argued that marketers could benefit from targeting "silver surfers", or older web users, who are often under-served but boast considerable spending power.

With regard to sectors, it suggested that travel, medical supplies and computer hardware and software were among the areas where considerable room for expansion remained.

Despite the overall trend towards the net, the company also reported that a sizeable cohort of consumers was indicating a heightened preference to shop "locally in person".

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff