Online consumer spending in the UK is set to increase by 1,000 per cent in the next five years – at the expense of high street shopping, research shows.

Only 6.4 per cent of the expected surge in e-commerce will be incremental growth, with the rest being at the expense of traditional retailers. The findings follow research by UK-based Verdict Research.

Being available 24 hours a day is a key to surviving in the future, and stores are already "cannibalizing" themselves by offering goods cheaper on Web sites than on their own store shelves, the report concluded.

The study, based on face-to-face interviews with 6,000 UK Internet users, suggests that the Internet shopping is more convenient and cost effective. "Net shoppers think it’s faster, more fun, and better for browsing than street shopping," Verdict said.

PC ownership in the UK will level-off at around 55 per cent of households, the report predicts, limiting the growth of online shopping via PCs. However, by 2004, 12.4 million people in the UK will have access to digital television, which will account for around 25 per cent of online sales, according to the report.

Currently, out of the UK's online population of nine million people, 1.9 million have bought something online, almost double the number in 1998, Verdict said.

In 2004, the report predicts that 35.6 per cent of all computer software purchases will be made online, as will 17.2 per cent of book sales. In addition, 15.6 per cent of music and videos will be purchased online, while purchases of groceries and clothing will be below 3 per cent, and 2.2 per cent of all other goods will be sold online, the report predicts.