Consumer research group Mintel has released research data which shows that, for the first time web stores have overtaken mail order catalogues as the most popular form of home shopping. On the high street the internet stole nearly 9% of sales from traditional shops in the last quarter of 2004.
Over 32% of shoppers bought goods online last year compared to 25% from a catalogue.
While the internet figure rose from just 9% in 2000, the number of catalogue shoppers fell dramatically and Mintel claims that despite being perfectly placed to exploit the popularity of e-commerce, traditional mail order firms are failing to make the leap.
Mintel's Richard Perks said: -.
"The internet is still seen by many as an exciting, new and convenient way to shop, while catalogues are often seen as old fashioned and downmarket."
Modern consumers are increasingly more sophisticated when shopping, he added, and demand personally targeted offers.
"There is a place for home shopping and it will grow its share in the longer term. But if the existing players do not respond quickly it will be new operators which will be the beneficiaries," he said.
BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT
Traditional catalogue sellers are not the only ones missing out on an opportunity. The increasingly fragile, bricks and mortar independent retail sector could capitalise on e-commerce opportunities for remarkably little investment but most do not.
More than 1 in 3 households have internet access and 7 million have broadband which helps to explain why internet sales are predicted to grow from £526 per head today to £666 per head in 2007.
The Business Forum is exploring internet selling opportunities for small independent retailers and will be holding an event in the near future to introduce them to the possibilities.
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