Women are fuelling the increase in online banking and shopping, according to new figures from NetValue and NOP.
Banking websites attracted more than 5 million home Internet users in July, up from 3.8 million in January, says NetValue. The UK has more visitors to banking sites (5.2 million) than any other of the eight main European countries surveyed.
Women have formed a major part of the increase, making up more than half (53 per cent) of new users of online banking this year. Figures for women banking online are up more than 60 per cent since January.
The average duration spent on a banking site across the month has reduced from 28.1 minutes to 22.3.
"UK Internet users are showing that they are comfortable banking online," says NetValue analyst Alki Manias. "However, users are also spending less time online, suggesting they know their way round the sites, and what they want to do there."
NOP's new Internet user-profile survey notes that the past 12 months have seen more new female than male online shoppers. NOP concludes that the "female pound" is growing stronger online, with women making up the majority of purchasers in the categories showing strongest year-on-year growth, such as clothes, toys, groceries and electrical "white goods".
The survey records a 42 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of British adults who shopped online in the four weeks of June 2001 -- 4.8 million adults, up from 3.37 million in June 2000.
The survey also shows a big surge in usage by the "grey market", also known as "silver surfers". Taken together, these two groups signal a mainstreaming of the Internet in the UK, says NOP.
The report finds that British online shoppers are filling their online baskets with an increasingly broad range of goods, says NOP. Convenience, price and the ability to save time were seen as they key drivers for growth.
Percentage of Internet users visiting banking sites, July 2001
Note: Table made from bar graph