5 Online shopping – a beginner's guide
Buying goods and services online used to be a minority activity – the preserve of the geeks and the 'early adopters' who are willing to try anything new. But in the last few years, online shopping has become a mainstream activity. In January 2003, the Office of National Statistics reported that online shopping accounted for 6 per cent of all UK retail shopping expenditure. The same source reported that UK businesses sold £23.3 billion-worth of goods and services over the Internet in 2002 – a rise of 39 per cent on the previous year's £16.82 billion. Many thousands of UK residents buy books, music, DVDs and other goods from e-retailers like Amazon.co.uk. A larger number now use services like Tesco Direct, Ocado and Sainsbury, either to save personal time or to have groceries delivered to relatives, holiday homes, etc. The only way to buy tickets from most budget airlines is via the Web. People – especially younger ones – have become accustomed to booking theatre, concert and cinema tickets online, for example.