LONDON: Online shopping in the UK has climbed nine percentage points year-on-year, according to a new study that also explores the key reasons why so many consumers prefer to use their devices rather than visit a physical shop.

Based on responses from more than 1,500 online shoppers, Royal Mail’s annual UK report revealed that these consumers now make 87% of their retail purchases online (excluding groceries), up from 80% in 2017.

While convenience is often cited as a major reason for people to shop online, the Royal Mail report established that the proportion of money being spent online is increasing as consumers look for good value for money.

It said the ability to compare prices and a wider choice of products are the key reasons for shoppers to go online rather than to shop in-store.

Specifically, 44% of UK shoppers say they find it cheaper to buy online than in-store, while a similar proportion (45%) like to browse online in their free time.

On average, UK shoppers spend £34 on each online transaction, although men typically spend more online than women – £255 for men and £204 for women over a three-month period.

And looking at the types of devices consumers prefer to use when shopping online, laptops are mostly used in the evening, while smartphones are more likely to be used at all other times of the day.

Not surprisingly, much of this smartphone usage is done while travelling or commuting, but the proportion of online shoppers doing so has risen to 78%, up seven percentage points in just one year (71% in 2017).

Use of social media sites to shop online is also on the rise, with around a fifth (22%) of UK consumers buying an item after seeing something on social media.

The survey also revealed that younger shoppers (48%), women (29%) and people living in towns and cities (38%) are significantly more likely to have bought items after seeing posts on social media.

Commenting on the findings, a Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The growth of online retailing is driving a relentless pursuit of value for money. People continue to look online for the best deals and prices and this is driving the proportion of money being spent online, which has increased for the second year in a row.

“Retailers of all sizes must ensure they are responding to the ever changing digital landscape alongside trends in online shopping behaviour being led by younger shoppers.”

Sourced from Royal Mail; additional content by WARC staff