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Older shoppers power online spending: research

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It may be cold on the high street, but the British passion for shopping is still thriving online, according to a new study. But today it’s older people rather than youthful digital natives who are spending their time and money shopping online, the research from website builder has found.

Some 86% of over-55s shop regularly spend online, while 36% say they do most of their shopping on the internet, according to the research, carried out by OnePoll. That makes this age group the UK’s top online shoppers. Those aged between 25 and 34, on the other hand, are least likely to buy online, with 13% of this group saying they never do it.

Why do they opt for the internet? Some 60.5% of the 1,000 people who took part in the study said convenience was their main driver, while 53.4% said online goods were better value. In the over-55s group, 59.2% said they liked having products delivered to their home – because that meant they didn’t have to carry them home themselves.

In the younger age group, however, 16% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they preferred the anonymity of buying online.

Both groups valued the ability to shop from the high street however, with 73.4% citing the ability to try a product before buying it. That was a priority for 60% of 25 to 34-year-olds, and for 83.4% of over-55s.

On average, the study found, British shoppers spend more than 2.4 hours a week shopping online, compared to 1.2 hours window shopping on the high street. Some 12.6% spend more than five hours a week browsing goods on the internet, while only 2.1% spend that long on the high street.

Despite this it seems when it comes to high value purchases such as cars, UK shoppers head for the high street. On average they spend £126 a month in shops compared to £116 online.

It seems the gender divide is not so apparent when it comes to online spending. Women spend only around 12% more time shopping than men, taking 3.3 hours a week on average, of which 2.3 hours is online and one hour in the store. Men spend 2.9 hours a week, with 2.1 hours online and 0.8 hours in store.

But though they spend less time shopping, it seems men spend more than women, parting with £273.15 in total (£127.93 online and £145.22 in store) compared to just £212.78 (£105.42 online and £107.36 in store) for women each month.

Chris Winstanley, VP, marketing at, says the research counters the perception that UK retail is “all doom and gloom.” Rather, “Brits are still keen shoppers with people spending many hours a week shopping,” he said.

He added: “What this research does highlight is that Brits are increasingly taking that shopping behaviour online, and it’s not just young people. With silver surfers now the UK’s biggest online shoppers, retail outlets must consider their websites as – if not more – important as their physical stores to cater to this group, and should be developing sites that are easier for these older people to navigate.”

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