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Tuesday 21 May 2019


Older online shoppers treble since 2008

Written by Peter Walker

The proportion of adults aged 65 years and over who shop online trebled since 2008, rising from 16 to 48 per cent in 2018.

Analysis of internet access by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed that among all adults, 78 per cent bought goods or services online in the last 12 months, up one per cent since 2017 and 25 per cent since 2008.

A higher proportion of younger adults were online shoppers compared with older adults, with 95 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 years and 96 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 years carrying out this activity in 2018.

This contrasts with adults aged 65 years and over, who showed the lowest proportion of online shopping at 48 per cent. However, this age group’s online shopping activity rose threefold since 2008.

Chris Haines, director of consulting at retail tech firm Amplience, said many retailers with an older customer base have traditionally felt safe that physical stores and traditional engagement techniques would be enough.

“But this does not mean that they can avoid investing in new technologies that improve the customer experience,” he pointed out. “As our expectations for more personalised and convenient shopping expands, retailers are facing a challenge from global online brands such as Amazon Fresh.”

Haines added that while over 65s are not necessarily digital natives, they are quickly adopting the convenience of purchasing goods online. “That makes it even more important for retailers to be present across channels to foster and sustain brand loyalty.”

The age group with the smallest growth in online shopping was those aged 35 to 44 years, up 21 percentage points, to 89 per cent in 2018.

The ONS also found that of those adults who purchased online in the last three months, adults aged 16 to 24 years were most likely to shop online once or twice, whereas those aged 25 to 54 years were most likely to shop online more than 10 times in the same period.

All age groups were most likely to spend between £100 and £499.

The most frequent online shoppers across all age groups were adults aged 35 to 44 years, with 48 per cent shopping online more than 10 times in the last three months. This age group also had the highest percentage of adults who spent £1,000 or more in the last three months (30 per cent).

Clothes or sports goods were still the most popular online purchase in 2018, bought by 55 per cent of adults. Household goods were the next most popular items, purchased by 48 per cent of adults. Holiday accommodation was purchased by 42 per cent of adults.

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