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Home Business Nearly every British adult now seeks “retail therapy” through digital stores

Nearly every British adult now seeks “retail therapy” through digital stores

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
  • Last year, almost every British adult under 50 reported buying something online
  • Across the country, use of online stores has increased 40% over the past decade
  • Number of over-65s shopping online increases 200% since 2010

A new study indicates that the internet has become the UK’s primary source for “retail therapy” over high street shops, as almost every adult across Britain now reports purchasing various goods via online stores on a high-frequency basis.

New research from mobile phone accessory supplier Case Monkey assessed data drawn from ONS to find that 87% of British adults report using online stores to purchase goods last year.

Overall, use of online stores has increased 40% on figures from 10 years ago, where only 62% of the population reported buying something online within a 12-month period.

Concerning the ages of online shoppers, those the most likely to “add to basket” appear to be within the ages of 25-34, with almost all young Brits (99%) stating to have used online shopping over the course of 2020.

Adults aged 16-24 are the next most likely to buy goods online, at 96%, while a shared 95% of adults aged between 35-44 and 45-54 round off the highest users of digital stores.

Despite a lower overall percentage of 65%, those aged 65+ have seen the highest increase in use of online shopping over the past decade; The number of senior citizens making use of online stores has soared by almost 200% on figures from ten years ago, at which point only 22% of citizens of the same age range reported shopping online.

Percentage of British adults using online stores to purchase goods

Age group 2010 2020 10-year increase
16-24 74 96 30
25-34 79 99 25
35-44 78 95 22
45-54 70 95 36
55-64 58 79 36
65+ 22 65 195
All 62 87 40


Concerning the frequency at which Brits make use of digital stores, over a third of adults (34%) report making at least eleven separate “shopping trips” over a three-month period. Furthermore, those within the age range of 35-44 are the most frequently active shoppers, with 44% among this grouping making eleven or more purchases a month.

Frequency of online shopping over three-month period (as percentage)

Times purchased 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ All
Once or twice 25 11 12 9 19 26 16
Three to five times 30 26 23 36 25 39 30
Six to ten times 20 18 20 17 22 19 19
Eleven times or more 24 43 44 37 34 15 34


Looking at the types of goods purchased by Britain’s online shopaholics, data from last year shows more than half (55%) using online stores to purchase clothes, shoes and accessories over a three-month period.

Food deliveries ranks second on the list, with one in three online shoppers using their internet services to order takeaways.

Despite the popularity of digital books, online news sites and webzines, 29% of digital shoppers report purchasing physical copies of books, magazines and newspapers online. Comparatively, physical copies of films, series and music appear toward the lower end of the list, both seeing less than 15% of online shoppers making purchases of these types.

At the lowest end of the list are purchases of bicycles, motorised vehicles and related spare parts, with only 8% of shoppers reporting purchases of these types over a three-month period, most likely owing to a lesser frequent need to purchase such goods in general.

Type of goods purchased over three-month period (as percentage)

Goods purchased Men Women All
Clothes, shoes and accessories 49 62 55
Deliveries from restaurants, fast-food chains or caterers 32 32 32
Printed books, magazines or newspapers 28 30 29
Furniture, home accessories or gardening products 29 28 28
Computers, tablets, mobile phones or accessories 27 21 24
Children’s toys or childcare items 19 24 22
Cosmetics, beauty or wellness products 15 29 22
Cleaning or personal hygiene products 16 20 18
Consumer electronics (TVs, stereos, cameras or household appliances) 23 13 18
Sports goods (Excluding sports clothing) 22 12 17
Food or beverages from stores 13 14 13
Medicine or dietary supplements 13 13 13
Physical copies of films or series 15 11 13
Physical copies of music 15 10 12
Bicycles, mopeds, cars, or other vehicles or their spare parts 11 5 8


Commenting on the study, a spokesperson for Case Monkey stated: “The increasing popularity of online shopping over the past decade proves how integral the internet has become to our everyday livelihood. The speed, convenience and overall ease involved in ordering all manner of goods directly to our doorsteps no doubt fuels this fire, and such services clearly eased the difficulties faced by the nation during last year’s lockdowns.”

This study was conducted by Case Monkey, which offers the largest selection of cases for smartphones, tablets and other smart devices.