Increasing use of broadband has been the single, biggest influence on the dramatic growth of online shopping, according to a retail analyst.
A poll by distance shopping expert Zendor showed that over half of consumers say taking up a faster internet connection has allowed them to broaden their shopping habits.
Zendor said estimates showing that 60 per cent of UK households will have a high-speed broadband connection by next year suggest 2006 could be another bumper year for internet retailers, who in 2005 staved off the consumer spending slowdown that plagued their high-street rivals.
Data from the Interactive Media Retail Group (IMRG) showed that online sales in the run-up to Christmas, alone, soared by over 50 per cent, as customers found greater confidence and lower costs in web spending.
"As more and more consumers sign up to a broadband connection, the attraction of internet shopping is becoming even more pronounced," Zendor marketing and communications manager Angela Schorah said.
"Any retailers who have not yet developed a multi-channel or online strategy need to move fast if they are to embrace this shift in consumer behaviour and stay ahead of their competitors."
According to the poll, other factors which influence a consumer’s decision to shop online include better promotion of available channels by retailers, improved delivery, and better online security.
Zendor said the need for better promotion of channels suggests that consumers are not only expecting more than one channel via which to shop, but are also not aware of websites offered by many high street retailers.
It seems there is still a lot of work to be done by retailers in driving customers to their own sites rather than competitors, Schorah said.