Online spending breaks £100bn mark
Britons will spend £107 billion on online shopping this year, breaking the £100 billion barrier for the first time as more people than ever turn to the web to make purchases.
According to Barclaycard , the amount spent by people shopping online is increasing by 11% on average per year as access to smartphones and tablets continues to rise.
A survey commissioned by Google also found that more than 30% of Britons have made a purchase on a smartphone, the highest of any European nation, with 68% of UK residents now using a such a device.
The Barclaycard research shows that music downloads have become the fastest-growing sector for online spending, with sales up more than 120% on last year, and more than 75% of all music purchases now take place online.
Chris Wood, Barclaycard's managing director, said: "Online shopping has come a long way since it first emerged in 1984 and now accounts for one in every £5 spent on credit and debit cards in the UK. More and more of us are turning to the web to research, compare prices and buy everything from cinema trips and electronics to the latest fashions, making it an inextricable part of modern retail."
IMRG, the UK's online retail association, says the rise of mobile devices is driving the increase in online spending, with the firm's research showing that 45% of all visits to online retailers, and 33% of sales, come from smartphones and tablets.
Andrew McClelland, chief operations and policy officer at IMRG, said: " Today's consumers are just getting to grips with the opportunities that technology brings to their everyday lives. Everything from booking a taxi through to buying a car can be done through digital channels.
"Over the next few years, internet shopping will increasingly become the norm as more of us become accustomed to researching and buying products through online stores. The devices we purchase from are also likely to change in the next few years, whether it's through shopping online using our smart watch, or programming our smart fridges to order groceries online as soon as they've run out."
Earlier this week, mobile provider EE reported an increase in the amount of people who are now 'showrooming', a practice where mobile users browse for deals online while in physical stores on the high street in the hope of saving money. According to EE's findings, more than 40% of consumers use their device while in-store to increase their chances of saving money.
Other industries have also been embracing technology in order to boost sales, according to Barclaycard's research.
"The music and airline industries are prime examples of where businesses have fully embraced the potential of the internet and have made it their main source of business", said Mr Wood.
"These sectors show it is vital for retailers to move quickly to keep pace with their customers' desire to shop online, where they can build deeper relationships and engage with customers, or they risk being left behind."
However, online shoppers received a warning about safety on the web this week when e-commerce giant eBay confirmed its database had been hacked, and account information, but not financial data, had been compromised.
The US-based company is still investigating the hack, but has been criticised for its lack of response to such a large-scale breach of security. Users have been encouraged to change their passwords, but eBay has made little other information public.