An estimated 11.7 million British households logged on to the internet between January and March this year, with 60 percent of all UK adults using the internet at some point — whether in the office or at home — over the same period, according to figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
PCs retained their place as the most popular method for accessing the internet, scooping 98 percent of the market — a quarter of those were laptops, leaving PDAs and mobile phones to scrape up around eight percent. Other web access methods, including digital TV, were also studied, but sample sizes were too small to give reliable figures.
When it comes to where people log on, a whopping 82 percent chose to do so from the privacy of their own homes. Forty-five percent got online at work and 24 percent went to someone else's home to do so. Other notable access points were educational establishments (17 percent), public libraries (10 percent) and internet cafes (eight percent).
Most people questioned (85 percent) used the internet to seek out information about goods and services, while 69 percent searched for travel and accommodation details. Travel watchdog Abta says online sales have become increasingly important to travel agents, with online offers "flying out the door days or even weeks before those advertised instore", according to a spokesman.
Almost half of people using the internet had ordered tickets, goods or services online at least once over the past three months, highlighting the growing confidence in buying online. Books, holidays, CDs and event tickets were among the most popular items purchased with some people (22 percent) spending over £500 online over the three months to March.
However, the report revealed that a large percentage of shoppers are still avoiding shopping online. The reasons for not doing so were security fears (23 percent) and that they favoured shopping in person (30 percent).
Levels of access differ considerably throughout the UK. Access was lowest in Northern Ireland where only 35 percent of households were online, followed by Wales (38 percent) and North East England (40 percent). The highest takeup was seen in the South of England where over half of the population (52 percent) have internet access.
A full copy of the report can be found here.