How Britain Spent Online in 2018

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A survey of 1000 UK consumers reveals where and on what people spent their money in the last 12 months

Brits shopped in bed, splurging on escapes, takeaways, and regrettable fashion purchases, according to new research conducted by digital wallet and money transfer provider Neteller. The survey results provide interesting insight into the nation’s online shopping habits in 2018.

The most popular online purchases were vehicle-related, accounting for 23% of the country’s total online spend.  Shoppers in the West Midlands paid out by far the most—£14,727 last year on average—compared to the lowest monthly vehicle spend of £1,171 over the year in the East Midlands.  Those in the North-East spent £3,235 last year on average, but 80% say they’ve regretted a purchase.

Holidays were the next highest online investment overall in 2018 —13% of the national total for online spend—with an average of £2,832 spent.  Holidays ranked highly for online consumers in the East Midlands, with an average investment of £4,624. Meanwhile, in Wales the average year’s holiday spend per household was less than half that amount (£1,537).

Online food purchases came in third, with an average country-wide spend of £1,596 per year. As well as essential food items, Britons also spent an average of over £800 a year on online takeaway food and £1,115 on alcohol. Among the top spenders are residents of Northern Ireland, who spent (£2,397) on alcohol alone, followed closely by London (£2,221).

But with indulgence can come regret, it seems.  Of all regular online buyers surveyed, 34% said they habitually regretted their fast food purchases. Of that group, it’s the millennial 18-24 year-olds who were most likely to experience buyer’s regret (62%).

Generally, the online alcohol shopper was less likely to regret their purchase than the fast food shopper. However, between food and booze, both men and women regretted around one in four purchases on average. The survey also revealed:

  • 21% of Londoners ordered alcohol online after they’d had a few drinks

  • 47% of 18-24 year-olds said they tended to order takeaways when drunk or bored

  • 23% of women said they were more driven to buy alcohol when there was a sale on

  • 26% of men said their online alcohol purchases were ‘essential’

  • 53% of 18-24 year-olds said buying alcohol online improved their quality of life

  • Over half of millennial male and female alcohol drinkers in the 18-24 age group (53%) habitually using a credit card to pay for their booze.

Other top online purchases in 2018 included tech, insurance, experiences, and items for the home.

Of the purchases Britons say they regretted most in 2018, fashion scored highest—44% bought something then wished they hadn’t.  Fast food takeaways were also a major regret at 34%.

CEO of Neteller, Skrill and Income Access at Paysafe, Lorenzo Pellegrino, said:

“Especially towards the end of the year, when many of us suddenly have to dig deeper to pay for Christmas gifts, we reflect on how little we’ve managed to budget for the big festive season.

“Online shopping makes it easy to buy anything you want, at any time, with just a few clicks – so it’s important to be smart about your spending.”

Britain’s top online purchases in 2018

(and what we spent on average in 2018)

  • Vehicle: £5,029

  • Holidays: £2,832

  • Food: £1,596

  • Tech: £1,369

  • Insurance: £1,204

  • Alcohol: £1,115

  • Experiences: £923

  • Home: £869

  • Takeaways: £864

What Britons regretted buying online in 2018

  • Fashion (44%)

  • Takeaways (34%)

  • Vehicle (27%)

  • Food (25%)

  • Subscriptions (25%)

  • Alcohol (24%)

  • Beauty (22%)

  • Home (20%)

Where Britons did their shopping

  • Watching TV (58%)

  • In bed (42%)

  • At work (22%)

  • Riding the bus(18%)

  • On a sun lounger (10%)

  • In the bath (8%)

  • At hairdresser (5%)

  • In a taxi (5%)