According to the latest findings by analysts at research firm Forrester the internet has dramatically changed the way people shop and has become an important tool for consumer research, despite the slowing growth in the number of people using the internet.
Over the last six months the number of people who use the internet more than once a month has grown by one percent to 22.5 million. But of these, 14 million have purchased goods online compared to just nine million last year.
"Despite the slowing penetration of regular internet users and the well-publicised dotcom bust, the web continues to impact British buying behaviour," said William Reeve, Forrester's group director of European data products. "The number of consumers using the internet to buy goods and services is growing unabated."
The study, conducted throughout October and November of this year, questioned 68,000 online users about their internet habits. Over half of those people (53 percent) said they used the internet to research products they were thinking about buying. This represented the third most popular use of the internet, which retailers may be wise to take notice of as 12 percent of people subsequently purchase those goods from high street shops.
The two most popular reasons given for using the internet were to send emails (72 percent) and to use search engines (63 percent).
"Our research shows that there is a clear correlation between experience and proclivity to buy. As consumers spend longer online, they become more confident about undertaking more complex activities like online shopping," said Reeve.
"More than 13 million online consumers now feel secure about giving personal financial details online, compared with just eight million online consumers a year ago," Reeve added.
High street, and now online, retailer Argos agrees. "People are starting to see the benefits of buying online," said a spokesman for the company. "Even if they come to the store to purchase the goods it saves them time and hassle to have the convenience of seeing those goods online first."