Brits too scared to shop online

LONDON, UK – Almost a third of British internet users are too nervous to shop online, according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Even so, they are still more willing to do so than their European neighbours.

Of those who said they avoided shopping online, 30 per cent said that a lack of trust was the main factor holding them back, whilst 20 per cent cited fears over personal security and 15 per cent said they did not trust companies that sell online.But the Brits sill buy twice as much over the internet as people in other European countries.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Gareth Thomas said: “It’s encouraging that the OFT’s survey shows increasing consumer confidence when buying online – but people still have concerns. That’s why we will be setting out proposals in our forthcoming consumer White Paper to better protect people from fraudsters and increase their consumer knowledge when shopping on-line.”

While consumer confidence is gradually improving, says the OFT, overall levels are still too low for the market to reach its full potential. Even for those who did shop using the internet – roughly half the people interviewed – 72 per cent said they still had concerns over doing so and 38 per cent were at best only slightly aware of their online consumer rights.

Confidence is improving. Among the people who did shop online, 54 percent felt it was as safe as shopping in store, compared to 26 percent in 2006. Figures from IMRG suggest that £43.8 billion was spent on online retail in the UK in 2008, an increase of nearly 45 percent from 2006 when £30.2 billion was spent online.

The OFT has been trying to do its bit to improve matters. In the last couple of years it has persuaded the top five auction sites to provide information to consumers about their rights under the Distance Selling Regulations, including cancellation rights. It has also published top tips for safe shopping online, and provided small firms on online security.