Shoppers shun high street and hunt for internet bargains

23 Mar 2009

Last year Irish consumers spent an average of €1,700 each on online purchases of consumer products, according to Visa. It turns out 93pc of online shoppers do so because of convenience and to avoid queues.

Convenience and hassle-free existences are top of the curve, with 69pc of consumers saying they find buying online less stressful than shopping with retailers.

Value is also key, with nine out of 10 online shoppers expressing a belief that they get better value over the internet than in bricks and mortar stores.

Nearly three quarters of the shoppers in the survey said they can get savings of 30pc off high-street prices.

Men are the biggest internet spenders, with the average man purchasing €1,950 online, compared with a lady’s average spend of €1,550.

Only 13pc of Irish consumers currently purchase their groceries online. However, 35pc would prefer to buy them online and have them delivered.

Among the wide range of consumer products and services available on the internet, the vast majority of Irish online shoppers (82pc) regularly shop for holidays on the web.

Entertainment tickets and CDs or DVDS are the second and third most popular items purchased online respectively.

Men are more likely to shop for electronic products, compared to women who generally opt for cosmetic or fashion purchases.

“Despite the fact that many consumers are planning to curtail spending on consumer goods in general, we are looking at the opposite trend with online purchasing increasing due to the benefits associated with e-commerce,” said Jonathan Valentine, senior vice-president of marketing at Visa Europe, the card used by 44pc of internet shoppers.

“Apart from the value offered by internet retailers, we’re also seeing consumers opting for online shopping due to the convenience of having goods delivered and avoiding queues.”

“A lot of the growth in online shopping can be put down to the fact that Irish consumers are much more knowledgeable about their rights when buying online. Approximately two thirds of online shoppers know what security signs to look for and what rights they are entitled to,” said Valentine.

One of the major dislikes cited by respondents is queuing and crowds in the bricks and mortar shops or supermarkets, with 31pc of survey participants voicing their frustration at busy high streets.

The survey findings also reveal that a typical Irish consumer spends an average of 80 minutes when grocery shopping (this includes time spent shopping in store and travelling to and from the store), and it takes approximately 35 minutes to make the journey to the nearest city centre to purchase consumer goods (such as CDs or digital cameras, etc).

High petrol prices, heavy traffic and ever-increasing commuting times, as well as increasing working hours, may soon impact on consumer preferences to purchase their groceries online. Seven out of 10 Irish consumers (69pc) believe in-store shopping is more stressful than shopping online.

Despite the current economic climate, online purchases are expected to increase by 24pc this year, due to the fact that nine out of 10 Irish shoppers (93pc) believe they can save money on consumer products by purchasing them online.

Credit-card purchases are becoming increasingly popular within the Irish online consumer market. The vast majority of Irish consumers use their credit cards on a regular basis, with three-quarters (75pc) using their credit cards 1-5 times on online purchases a month.

By John Kennedy