Online shopping continues to boomInternet seen as best route to bargains

16 April 2008

Online shopping is continuing to boom, with analysts predicting a 32% growth in web sales this year.

While the high street is feeling the effects of the credit crunch, online sales are growing and are expected to be worth around £19.5 billion this year.

Experts say the worsening economic climate is actually helping to boost the numbers turning to the internet.

Bargains

Verdict Research, which compiled the figures, said consumers view the web as a better and more convenient way to find bargains.

Neil Saunders of Verdict Research said: ‘The internet makes comparison shopping very easy. So much so that comparing prices across multiple retailers can take a matter of seconds.

‘Not only does that give consumers comfort that they're getting the lowest possible price, it also makes competition more intense and keeps prices down across the board.’

He added: ‘The high street will not die. Internet retailing is certainly set to become more significant but shopping is a tactile process and for many people it is a leisure activity – online retail does not really deliver on those two things.’

Shopping tips

If you're planning to shop online, remember these Which? tips:

  • The Distance Selling Regulations mean that you have a seven-day cooling-off period if you want to cancel an order. It starts from the day after you receive your order
  • if you change your mind about an item, be aware that they can't be all returned; this includes CDs or software if the seal has been broken, and perishable or personalised goods
  • beware of the small print.  A website should say who pays for postage if you’re returning goods – if it doesn't, the seller pays
  • pay by credit card.  If you're spending between £100 and £30,000, you’re protected by the Consumer Credit Act, which means you can claim from either the trader or your credit card provider if anything goes wrong
  • before you enter any payment details check how the web address starts – if it’s 'https', not 'http', the page is secure and your details are protected.