An estimated 11.7 million British households logged on to the Internet between January and March this year, with 60 per cent of all UK adults using the Internet at some point - whether in the office or at home - over the same period, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Personal computers retained their place as the most popular method for accessing the Internet, scooping 98 per cent of the market - a quarter of those were laptops, leaving PDAs and mobile phones to scrape up around eight per cent. Other Web-access methods, including digital TV, were also studied, but sample sizes were too small to give reliable figures.
When it comes to where people log on, a whopping 82 per cent chose to do so from the privacy of their own homes. Forty-five per cent got online at work and 24 per cent went to someone else's home to do so. Other notable access points were educational establishments (17 per cent), public libraries (10 per cent) and Internet cafes (eight per cent).
Goods and services Most people questioned (85 per cent) used the Internet to seek out information about goods and services, while 69 per cent searched for travel and accommodation details. Travel watchdog Abta says online sales have become increasingly important to travel agents, with online offers "flying out the door days or even weeks before those advertised instore", according to a spokesman.
Almost half of people using the Internet had ordered tickets, goods or services online at least once over the past three months, highlighting the growing confidence in buying online. Books, holidays, CDs and event tickets were among the most popular items purchased with some people (22 per cent) spending over £500 online over the three months to March.
However, the report revealed that a large per centage of shoppers are still avoiding shopping online. The reasons for not doing so were security fears (23 per cent) and that they favoured shopping in person (30 per cent).
Levels of access differ considerably throughout the UK. Access was lowest in Northern Ireland where only 35 per cent of households were online, followed by Wales (38 per cent) and North East England (40 per cent). The highest takeup was seen in the South of England where over half of the population (52 per cent) have Internet access.