Who’s afraid of the big bad web?

UK business watchdog the Office of Fair Trading published a treasure trove of research into consumer attitudes towards shopping online in May 2009.
It revealed that there is still a significant proportion of shoppers that have misgivings about parting with cash over the web.

In a phone survey conducted by the OFT in January 2009, a surprising 31% of respondents had never used the Internet.

The proportion of respondents that had used the Internet in the past 12 months, but had not bought anything online was a significant 23%.

Their reasons for not doing so were that they did not trust online retailers (15%), they
were worried about personal security (20%), or that they simply did not trust the Internet (30%).

Strangely, these proportions had not changed significantly since a similar survey conducted in 2006. This suggests that half the UK population has made up its mind not to shop online, and that this situation has not changed in the past three years.
But most surprising of all were the findings that online shoppers spent less, and less frequently, in 2009 than in 2006. This is a disturbing finding for online retailers hoping that the credit crunch would drive up buying on the web, as consumers hunt for bargains.

There was some good news for them though. The proportion of respondents who believe that shopping in a store is safer than shopping online fell from 72% to 41%; the majority now considers the two roughly equally in safety.

Unfortunately, the survey failed to divine whether this was due to an increased feeling of safety online, or mounting fear on the high streets of Britain.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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