November 20, 2008 / 5:55 AM / 9 years ago

High-street shopping losing appeal in plugged-in Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Internet is replacing the high street as the shopping destination of choice in the Asia Pacific, with a new survey showing a majority of Internet users prefer to go online to buy everything from electronics to holidays.

According to the Visa e-Commerce Tracking survey, nearly 80 percent of Internet users polled in the region say they made an online transaction and spent an average of over $3,000 each in the past 12 months.

The survey of just over 3,000 people in six countries and regions -- Singapore, India, Australia, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong -- showed the main draw of e-commerce was convenience and value, with nearly 90 percent saying it enabled them to find the best prices, shop easily and at any time.

“With almost four in five Internet users buying online, people in Asia Pacific are taking full advantage of the global shopping experience that the Internet provides,” Mohamad Hafidz, Visa’s regional head for e-Commerce in the Asia Pacific said in a statement.

Shoppers leave a store in Sydney's cental business district, November 14, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Nearly a quarter of the world’s population -- roughly 1.4 billion people -- used the Internet on a regular basis in 2008, and in Asia Pacific, on average, a person spent about 20.2 hours a month online.”

The most popular items purchased online were airline and transport tickets, hotel rooms and other holiday-related products, followed by digital electronics such as cameras and online entertainment such as music downloads.

In the region, Japanese and Koreans were the most frequent shoppers, with 99 percent and 93 percent respectively having made an online purchase over the last 12 months.

Australians were the biggest online spenders with an average 12-month tab of $4,160, with Singaporeans the next-biggest online spenders. The Internet has also brought about an increase in the number of overseas purchases, with 75 percent people surveyed in Hong Kong having bought an item from a website abroad.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Visa in April and May of this year. Respondents were aged from 18 to 46 years and accessed the Internet at least once a week.

Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Valerie Lee

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