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Online shopping habits revealed by NMA

Online shopping habits revealed by NMA

New Media Age today revealed some excellent research on online shopping habits of people during the recession; its come up with some fascinating statistics and ones that all point to a growing online market.

Below is a reprint of some of the main points of the article which can be found here.

"The survey of 1,957 people found 36% plan to do more shopping online and less on the high street this year. This figure rose to 45% of 18-24-year-olds and 44% of the big-spending 25-34-year-old market.

With recession looming, online consumers are more price conscious and intend to use the internet to hunt for savings - 34% plan to use price-comparison sites more, while 22% will increase their use of value supermarket and auction sites.

The research is supported by Nielsen figures which reveal a 64% year-on-year increase in unique visits to the site of value supermarket Aldi. In line with the growth, the cut-price chain is expanding its web presence with the launch this week of a travel website, with a flowers site due to launch later this month.

Rival low-cost supermarket Asda is also seeing growth online. Digital marketing manger Chris Dalrymple said, "There are considerable opportunities with our online and catalogue platform. Asda Direct is going from strength to strength and home shopping has seen 70% growth year on year, meaning we have the second-largest market share."

Mark Elwig, head of sales at Shopping.com, the number-one price-comparison site according to Nielsen, said it had also seen an increase in users over the Christmas quarter. "Where it used to be about the range and selection - having the widest range of products from the biggest number of retailers and a wide range of reviews - it's now all about price and having the best products at the best price," he said.

Neil Mason, head of UK retail research at Mintel, said, "Price-comparison and product review sites have enabled consumers to become more knowledgeable and seek out the best value, which is particularly important in a downturn. This will increase in the next year and value for money will be key during 2009."

The majority of respondents to the new media age survey (89%) believe better prices can be found online, while 68% said shopping online is cheaper than visiting the high street due to the rising costs of parking, petrol and transport. The online consumer also believes the internet offers a wider range of products (81%), lower prices (89%), ease of finding items (84%) and ease of comparing prices (95%).

The survey also highlighted areas where online could improve, with the high street preferred for customer service (70%) and the lack of waiting time to receive a product (74%).

The research comes as well-known high street stores such as Adams, MFI, Whittards of Chelsea, Woolworths and Zavvi fell into administration. Robin Goad, director of research at Hitwise UK, said, "All the companies that have collapsed over the last month didn't have a good web presence. Zavvi unfortunately had to shut down its website, which had a significant impact. Retailers with no site backup will be in serious trouble."

Pure-play sites, however, are already reporting successful Christmas trading. Entertainment etailer Play.com last week reported that sales in its Christmas trading period were up 24% compared with the previous year. Simon Peree, MD of Play.com, said, "We're in a fortunate position as entertainment products are relatively cheap and do well in a downturn. This year we plan to expand ranges within our categories, such as clothing and entertainment, and will also add new categories."

The new media age survey found CDs and DVDs were regarded the cheapest buys online, followed by video games, personal electronics, books and large electrical items.

Justin Moodie, head of online at HMV, said, "Some consumers are now more comfortable with the idea of shopping online, considering it more convenient and cheaper, especially when you consider the costs of visiting and shopping in high-street locations. However, a significant number of consumers are still very happy to shop on the high street or, as we're finding at HMV, to mix and match from both channels according to their requirements."

David Smith, director of the IMRG, the industry body for etailing, said, "Consumers are more empowered. They're researching online and buying offline, and vice versa. Brands have to have a multi-channel approach."

As new media age went to press, Christmas trading results from high street fashion retailer Next showed its stores had seen a like-for-like decrease in sales of 7%, while the Next Directory, which accounts for 60% of the brand's online sales, saw a 1.1% increase since last year. Debenhams also saw a decrease in sales over Christmas of 3.3%, while Marks & Spencer is expected to report a fall in its sales.

The IMRG is due to release online sales figures next week, but Smith predicted positive results for online shopping from both pure-plays and high street brands online."

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