UK consumers leading the way in online spending

As a social media agency, we’ve known for a while that the UK lead in online purchasing but recent research from Ofcom demonstrates the extent of this trend. According to the fifth international Communications Market report, UK internet users spend significantly more online than those in other countries. And, when it comes to social networking, it’s not just the younger generation that are leading the way.

The full report, including insights into TV, radio and telecoms, is downloadable from the OfCom website, but these figures caught our attention.


  • We shop online. A lot. On average, UK consumers have made 19 purchases online in the past 6 months. Polish
    consumers came in second with 14, followed by Germany with 9.
  • We spend. A lot. The average online spend for these UK purchases was £1,031. That’s nearly double France’s second place £595 and far more than Poland’s £325.

And if that’s not proof enough, 81% of respondents from the UK stated that “shopping” was the main reason for using the internet. This was topped only by Japan’s 87%.


62% of UK respondents use the internet for social networking, up 12% from 2008. This rise is, perhaps, unsurprising, but the demographic breakdown is interesting –

  • 86% of 18-24 year olds use the internet for social networking, leading the way ahead of all other countries.
  • And our 55-64s are also storming in front: 45% of people in this age group use the internet for social networking.

The UK also leads the way in mobile social networking, both as a total, and in relation to 18-24s and 25-34 year old age groups.

So what?

The popularity of both online shopping and social networking are unsurprising. What is interesting is the mainstream appeal of both activities and mediums, and the UK’s enthusiastic uptake of new technology and web based communications. With such a technically savvy and open consumer base, we think that there are some great opportunities for social shopping in 2011 and e-retailers operating in the UK.

But, not meaning to put a downer on things, have we reached saturation point?

© Ofcom. Logo.

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