America's internet-enabled consumers are buying more online than ever before, with 57% now having purchased items online, marking a 15% increase over the year 2000, and a 39% increase since 1998, according to the 'Customer Focus 2002: Internet' survey published by Vertis.
The biggest changes in opinion about online shopping were observed in the youngest (generation Y) and oldest generations (seniors). Some 16% of seniors are now intrigued about shopping on the web, compared with only 3% in 1998. Moreover, 49% of generation Y consumers are interested in purchasing from the internet now, against only 16% in 1998.
The report also reveals that the higher a person's household income, the more interested they are likely to be in purchasing goods online.
Home internet access has grown rapidly since 1998, with 57% of respondents claiming to have internet access at home, compared to 42% in 2000, and 25% in 1998. In contrast, internet access in the place of work has not grown so quickly, with 35% having access at work, compared to 31% in 2000, and 27% in 1998.
There also appear to be geographical differences: Those in the Southwest of the United States (including states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Utah) are most likely to have access either at home or at work, while people in the South (including states such as Kentucky and Tennessee) are least likely to have internet access.
During the past two years there have been significant changes in the numbers of different types of products being purchased online. Books were still by far the best internet seller in 2002 (43% of sales, although this figure represents an overall reduction in sales share, down from 47% in 2000).
Music CD sales also decreased by 6% over the same period, whilst sporting goods, home improvement items and home electronics gained online interest.
However, the clear leader in growth is currently the toy market, which has increased from 14% in 2000 to 23% in 2002.
The biannual Vertis survey tracks consumer behaviour across a variety of retail formats including the internet, grocery stores, department stores, discount stores, and automotive and specialty retailers. First conducted in 1998, the study is regularly modified to identify emerging behaviour patterns, and to track shifts in customer motivations.