Report: Holiday goods rate as most popular Internet purchase

Travel and accommodation bookings have proved the most common purchases over the Internet, according to a new Australian survey.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS’s) latest “Household use of Information Technology in Australia” publication, 15 per cent of adults surveyed during 2002 had shopped online while at home. This represented an increase of 34 per cent from those who reported using the Internet to shop in 2001.

Of those adult Internet shoppers (estimated by the ABS to be 2.2 million), 46 per cent said they had purchased travel or accommodation goods and services over the Internet. This was up from 33 per cent in 2001. Purchasing tickets to entertainment events or cinema, at 30 per cent, came in as the second most popular online purchase, while books and magazines were the third highest purchase category at 26 per cent.

The report also found 23 per cent of adults surveyed had used the Internet to pay bills or transfer funds, up from 17 per cent in 2001. In addition, 21 per cent of adults were found to have used the Web to access government services, an increase of 5 per cent on 2001 figures.

Online shoppers were also found to have increased the amount they spent in 2002 as compared to 2001. Over the year, online shoppers reported forking out at least $4 billion via the Internet – more than $2 billion more than recorded in the previous year’s ABS survey.

Additionally, while the percentage of shoppers spending up to $500 via the Internet had decreased from 61 per cent in 2001 to 46 per cent in 2002, those who spent over $1000 rose from 19 per cent to 34 per cent over the same period.

ABS research analyst Michael Robertson said the survey did not provide any clues as to why shoppers had increased their spending allowances online. However, the majority of those who did not shop online during 2002 reported that they had felt no need to, or had not been attracted to purchasing online (36 per cent). Security concerns were listed by 29 per cent as a factor in not spending online, he said.

Despite reporting a slowing growth rate, the ABS report stated that the number of adults using the Internet at home continues to climb. In 2002, 58 per cent of Australian adults accessed the Internet while at home, rising from 43 per cent in 2001 and 31 per cent of adults in 1998.

An increase of 16 per cent saw 61 per cent of Australian households now accessing a computer at home, while 46 of Australian households had home Internet access.

The adult population was estimated by the ABS at just over 14.5 million.

The ABS household Internet use publication was based on results from the ABS Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology (SETIT), conducted between April and August 2001, and the General Social Survey (GSS), conducted between March and July 2002.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

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