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Online shopping booms in the countryside

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42% of adults living in rural Britain are shopping online more than they did last year, according to a new report undertaken by The Future Laboratory for PayPal. The report also indicates that 94% of people living in the countryside now shop online.

‘Online Retail: The new consumer demands’ found that limited choice of goods, distance to shops and improvements in online delivery services have encouraged a total of 4.4 million people across the UK countryside to increase the amount they shop online over the last year:

  • 16% say their nearest shops do not offer them the things they need

  • 10% say their nearest shops are too far away

  • 10% say they have increased the amount they shop online to avoid driving to their nearest high street

  • 17% say greater reliability and convenience in home delivery has been the key reason they have increased their online spending

  • 66% say they expect to get delivery for free

  • 35% say they expect next day delivery

“The internet has brought the high street to the countryside, and as many rural communities struggle without any shops at all, online shopping will play an increasingly bigger role as a lifeline for many communities,” says Carl Scheible, managing director of PayPal UK. “It’s alarming that up to 33 village shops are closing a month, however the extraordinary choice of goods and services available online means that people living in rural Britain need not be stranded. The internet may not yet be able to meet all our shopping needs — such as a pint of milk the moment you need it — but we expect more people to join the 4.4 million in the countryside who have increased their reliance on online shopping this year alone.”

“The current Royal Mail dispute has drawn attention to the importance of a reliable delivery service,” he added. “Everyone agrees we’re sending far fewer letters and cheques than in the past, but the rise of the internet has given a huge boost to what we used to call mail order. Our report shows that the greater reliability and convenience of home delivery has prompted almost one in five rural shoppers to spend more online. The current dispute may tempt some to delay their online purchases, but it’s unlikely to have any long term impact on our spending habits.”

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