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52/09 11 May 2009
Almost one in three internet users are not shopping online, with a lack of trust in the internet the biggest reason, a new OFT report published today shows.
Download Findings from Consumer surveys on Internet Shopping (pdf 227 kb).
Of these internet users, 30 per cent identified lack of trust as the main factor holding them back, whilst 20 per cent cited fears over personal security and 15 per cent said they did not trust companies that sell online.
While consumer confidence is gradually improving, overall levels are still too low for the market to reach its full potential. Even for those who do shop using the internet, which were roughly half the people interviewed, 72 per cent say they still have concerns over doing so and 38 per cent are at best only slightly aware of their online consumer rights.
Following publication of its market study into Internet Shopping in 2007 the OFT focused on increasing consumers' awareness online and on business compliance. This included:
The 2009 figures indicate that despite concerns, there have been some positive changes. Among the people who do shop online 54 per cent feel it is as safe as shopping in store compared to 26 per cent in 2006.
New figures also released today by Consumer Direct show that more people than ever are seeking guidance about internet shopping transactions. Enquiries about online purchases now account for 10 per cent of calls to Consumer Direct compared to 6 per cent in 2006.
John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive, said:
'Online retailing is the future for many businesses and increasingly important to the economy. If consumers are not confident online, demand will grow at a slower rate. So, we must tackle these concerns right now if the online market is to grow at its full potential.'
'The OFT looks forward to building on its previous work with both consumers and businesses to help make this happen.'
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gareth Thomas, said: 'UK consumers buy almost twice as much over the internet compared to their European Neighbours.'
'It's encouraging that the OFT's survey shows increasing consumer confidence when buying online - but people still have concerns. That's why we will be setting out proposals in our forthcoming consumer White Paper to better protect people from fraudsters and increase their consumer knowledge when shopping on-line.'
For copies of the report contact Kasia Reardon on 020 7211 8901.
1. Figures from IMRG estimate that £43.8bn was spent on online retail in the UK in 2008. This is an increase of nearly 45 per cent since 2006 when £30.2bn was spent online.
2. The OFT's findings on online shopping compares 2009 figures with those from 2006. Each survey included responses from over 1,000 consumers. The research looks at key issues such as awareness of cancellation rights, security concerns and consumer confidence.
3. The 2009 findings present results from questions placed on consumer omnibus surveys (GFKNOP Telebus and TNS Online bus) by the OFT in January 2009 on the online shopping market. The 2006 surveys were conducted as part of the Internet Shopping market study.
4. For top tips from Consumer Direct on buying online see the Consumer Direct website.
5. John Fingleton recently spoke on Consumer Protection in the Online World at the Digital Britain Summit. His speech is available on the Speeches page.
6. The OFT's Internet Shopping Market study 2007 can be found on the Market studies page.
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