Three out of five Australians have never been shopping online, according to a survey conducted by the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA).
The independent telephone survey, of 1200 Australians aged 18 and over, revealed some surprising trends about how Australians use the internet for shopping.
"We constantly hear that the internet is changing how we live," said Margy Osmond, CEO of the Australian National Retailers Association. "Yet over sixty percent of people surveyed said that they had never shopped online.
"Of those the most common reason is a preference to visit a shop to purchase a product. Two out of three people nominated this as the reason why they had never shopped on the internet.
"For many people shopping is an enjoyable experience – it is ‘retail therapy’. There is an atmosphere in the shops themselves which can’t be replicated on a computer screen."
Other reasons given by people who had never shopped on the internet included concerns about online security (50.6%), a lack of online access (41.3%), difficulty finding what was wanted (14.5%), and concerns about paying too much (14.7%).
Mrs Osmond said that while internet shopping was likely to increase in the future, in the short-term she did not envisage a new wave of people suddenly reaching for their laptops instead of visiting retailers.
"Only 22 percent of people surveyed indicated they were likely to increase the amount they spent online in the next six months, while nine percent said their spending would decrease, and sixty-nine percent said it would stay the same."
Mrs Osmond said the poll showed that online shopping habits largely focussed on entertainment and leisure, with people less likely to shop online for essentials.
"Buying online can be efficient and save us time. But it would seem online purchasing is far more likely to be for entertainment items. Only seven percent of shoppers went online to buy groceries.
The survey results revealed that during the last twelve months respondents who had shopped online had purchased:
o 44.5 percent – DVDs, CDs or computer games
o 39.7 percent – books
o 30.5 percent – clothing
o 29.9 percent – entertainment equipment
o 22.2 percent – toys
o 20.4 percent – health and beauty products
o 16.5 percent – home wares
o 15.3 percent – hardware
o 14.8 percent – sporting goods
o 7.4 percent – food and groceries
Mrs Osmond said the survey also revealed different online spending patterns for men and women.
"It is not surprising that men are more likely to buy entertainment equipment, sporting goods and hardware than women, who are more likely to shop online for clothing and health and beauty products than men.
"Education, profession, and income level are also factors in online shopping habits," Mrs Osmond said.
"White collar workers are twice as likely to purchase products online than blue collar workers. While those with higher household incomes were also more likely to shop online.
"Those with a university degree were twice as likely to shop online to those who had either completed their education at a college or with an apprenticeship, or had a primary or secondary level education.
"Online shopping also varied between age groups. While four out of five people over age fifty had never purchased online, surprisingly, over half of 18-24 year olds had never purchased online. This goes against perceptions that younger people, having grown up with the internet, are more likely to embrace new options provided online.
"But it might also reflect less access to credit cards for this age group," Mrs Osmond said.