LONDON: The UK's online consumers are leading the way among developed countries, spending more and shopping more frequently than their counterparts according to a new study.

The International Communications Market Report from regulator Ofcom compared the availability, take-up and use of services in the UK and 16 comparator countries and included online surveys with 9,070 consumers in nine countries.

It found that the UK had the highest per capita spend online in 2012, at £1,175, which was up 16% year on year. It was also 35% more than Australia, the second highest country of the eight considered on this metric, and 77% more than the USA in third place.

UK consumers were spending ten times as much online as Italians, who came in last spending just £126 each.

Not only were they spending more they were doing so more often. Fully 73% of the online population in the UK bought goods for delivery over the internet on at least a monthly basis. Consumers in Japan (70%) and Germany (67%) were close behind, while those in Spain were least likely to shop online.

The mains reasons cited by UK consumers for shopping online were price (59%) and the fact it was easier than shopping in store (58%). This was generally true for most countries except Spain and Italy where only around one quarter thought it was easier to shop online.

Consumers in these two countries also showed greater scepticism about the ability of online retailers to ship the correct item, with around one in ten doubting they would do so. The greatest levels of confidence were seen in the UK and Germany where 83% and 82% respectively agreed that they trusted online retailers to ship the correct item.

British and German consumers returned similarly high figures when asked if they trusted online retailers to advertise products accurately – 80% in the UK, and 81% in Germany.

Delivery concerns, primarily the costs involved, were common and in six of the eight comparator countries, over half of all respondents indicated that these had prevented them from buying online. Japanese consumers were most worried (72%) about this aspect while those in France (64%) and Italy (61%) also showed high levels of trepidation.

The only two countries to record scores under 50% on this metric were Germany (48%) and the USA (49%).

Germany and France showed least anxiety over whether the goods would arrive at all, with just 16% and 19% expressing concern about this. In contrast, shoppers in Spain (50%) and Italy (46%) were most worried.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff