UK research agency BMRB reports a 13% surge in the number of Britons surfing the internet in 2005 - nearly twice the averaged growth rate for the past two years. Last November the web overtook radio to become the second most common medium after TV.

According to the study, 56.3% of adults had used the internet in the four weeks preceding the survey. This percentage equates to 26.5 million people, the majority of whom (23.5m) were home users.

Broadband continues to be the main driver of home usage which rose five percentage points to 76%, approximating to 18 million individuals.

Nor is there any indication that enthusiasm for broadband is on the wane, with around 25% of non-broadband surfers claiming they are "likely" to take the home DSL route within in the next twelve months.

BMRB's quarterly internet survey is based on a constantly changing sample of 1,000 adults.

  • In tandem with the near-exponential growth of online Britons, cyber-shopping in the run-up to Christmas reached an alltime high, according to the industry body for electronic retailers, the Interactive Media in Retail Group.

    Shoppers spent nearly £5 billion ($8.83bn; €7.3bn) on internet purchases in the ten-weeks preceding the holiday, conferring on Britain the accolade of Europe's top online consumers of retail therapy.

    Internet shopping now accounts for about 9% of all retail spending, with around 24m people buying Christmas presents and other goods online, with an average spend per capita of £208.

    Another study, published last week by the European Interactive Advertising Association, estimated that the average UK online shopper spent £875 last year, nearly double the average (£452) elsewhere in Europe.

    Data sourced from Media Week (UK) and Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff