Europeans turning into online shopaholics - study

Europeans rival Americans as the Internet's biggest shopaholics, with the average wired European consumer splurging on items...

Europeans rival Americans as the internet's biggest shopaholics, with the average wired European consumer splurging on items ranging from DVDs to airline tickets, a new study released on Monday said.

The annual Cyberstudy on E-commerce, conducted by research firm RoperASW and AOL Time Warner's Internet arm, said during a three-month stretch last year between August and October European shoppers spent on average €430 (£294) per head online.

During the same period, US consumers spent on average €543 (£372) worth of goods per head.

Until recently, North American consumers, the most established online community, have been the driving force behind the medium's commercial growth, building US-based Internet companies such as Amazon.com and eBay into the most recognisable dotcom retail brands in their fields.

But, as the research suggests, more populated regions of Europe are catching up. Non-American consumers are expected to kick off the next phase of Internet commerce expansion in the coming years.

Forty-five per cent of European online consumers expect to purchase more products online, according to the study, compared with 41% of Americans polled.

Germans are avid participants in online auctions while the French and English use the Internet to book travel reservations, the study said.

Europeans are more likely to bank online too, the study said, with 47% banking online versus 36% in the US. Also, shopping at work continues to be a common pastime with 31% sneaking in some online shopping on company time.

Nearly three out of four Europeans surveyed said they regularly or occasionally use the medium to research products before making a purchase online or at a store.

Among European consumers who are reluctant to shop online, they cite credit card security concerns as the primary reason.

For the study, RoperASW interviewed more than 1,000 Internet users in France, Germany and the UK last autumn.

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