Island households spend on average just over £7,000 a year on online shopping, a new survey reveals.
The survey of online shopping trends in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey was carried out by Island Analysis.
A sample of 1,692 Channel Island and Manx residents took part in the survey, equally divided between the three islands.
Among the key findings was that similar online shopping trends were recorded in each of the three islands, with the average annual online household spend of just over £7,000 in all three.
The overall value of online purchase expenditure, including travel bookings, in 2013 was estimated to be £216m in the Isle of Man, £258m in Jersey and £158m in Guernsey.
Two out of three respondents in each of the islands indicated that their expenditure level of online shopping had ‘increased’ or ‘increased a lot’ in 2013 over 2012.
‘Convenience’, ‘price’, and ‘product range and choice’ continue to be the dominant reasons for shopping online. However, there were slight differences between the islands.
If the overall market size of goods and services (including food and groceries, plus travel) that could theoretically be bought online is used, it is estimated that total spend is equivalent to 29 per cent of maximum market size in the Isle of Man, 28 per cent in Guernsey, and 24 per cent in Jersey.
Just over one in three respondents indicated they ‘frequently’ or ‘very frequently’ visited a local shop to view a product but then buy it online.
One in three respondents in both Jersey and the Isle of Man, and only one in four in Guernsey, ‘frequently’ or ‘very frequently’ reviewed a product online before buying that product locally.
Just over half of all respondents in the three islands stated they ‘often’ or ‘very often’ experienced online retailers not delivering to their island.
As far as the barriers to buying online were concerned, ‘companies not delivering to the island’ was the most important reason stated in all three islands.
More than 50 per cent of Isle of Man respondents indicated they had never purchased online group offers while only 25 per cent in Jersey and 27 per cent in Guernsey had never used such offers.
Excluding travel, the products and services with the greatest online activity were clothing and footwear, with around half of such sales in the three islands now carried out online – greater in Guernsey and the Isle of Man than in Jersey.
Around half of all household goods such as furniture and furnishings are also now bought online – greater in Guernsey than here.
Online purchases of electronic goods, books and downloads are estimated to be well in excess of 50 per cent given the level of average household online spend in these areas.
Tablets and, particularly, smart phones are becoming increasingly important as a means of buying products and services online, the survey found.
Internet shopping comes at a price – a reduction in the number of Manx businesses and jobs.
Chief Minister Allan Bell made that point in Tynwald last year when he was questioned over the government’s priorities on sustainability and self-sufficiency.
He told the court: ‘Whilst the imports still have to come from off the island, it is very important that people buy through local suppliers.
‘The internet is a very tempting medium to buy. It is easy. It is often cheaper, but when people do that they have to understand it comes at a price, and that price is the decimation of local suppliers, local retailers and obviously local jobs as well.
‘We have to be very alert to that across government, and indeed across the island.’