People over the age of 55 are more likely to shop online than under-25s in the UK, according to new findings from the British Population Survey (BPS).
Three over-55s for every two under-25s now purchase goods via the internet, the study suggests.
Encouragingly for the government, which recruited e-commerce expert Martha Lane Fox as its digital champion last summer in order to drive more people online, the fastest-growing group now with web access are the over-65s.
The research also shows that eight out of every ten people now have the internet and the number of consumers with access to the web grew by 2.75 million in 2010 - a significant improvement on 2009.
More still needs to be done to get the non-internet-users online, though, as there are reportedly more than ten million people who still do not have access.
Meanwhile use of social networking, which has grown by over 250 per cent in the last two years, driven by the younger generation. This is probably one of the reasons why so many retailers are expected to focus their attention on websites such as Facebook in the years ahead.
Blake Hayward, Co-founder of Extole, a company that provides refer-a-friend services via Facebook and rewards customers who recommend retailers to online friends, last week told Retail Gazette of social networking’s great potential.
He said that social commerce is becoming more influential than PR and traditional advertising because comments from friends are much more effective than reviews by faceless commentators.
Commenting on the BPS report, Research Director of the organisation Mike Hare said: “Our latest figures are starting to reveal distinct differences in attitude to the internet between the generations.
“While the Silver Surfers over-55s tend towards the more practical and economic benefits, iLifers under-25s regard the internet as a source of entertainment and social activity.”