Internet & eCommerce Use by Consumers – September 2009

The MCA carried out its sixth eCommerce survey with the aim of obtaining an indication of the level of internet and eCommerce usage accross the Maltese islands and to gauge the sector's potential for growth. 

The survey shows that there has been an increase of 13% in Internet access and an impressive growth of 32% in Internet usage, since the first study carried out in September 2006. Whilst Internet usage by persons between 18 and 65 years grew consistently over the years, Internet usage by the 66+ group remains persistently low. The latter’s lack of use is mainly due to not having access to a PC or Internet, not being interested and not knowing how to operate a PC or how to use the Internet. The majority of users mainly use the Internet to send and receive emails, carry out research, shop online and browse for products and services. It is interesting to note that more than three-quarters of Internet users use the Internet on a daily basis.

Statistics gathered by the MCA denote an increasing trend in online purchases. 73% of Maltese Internet users claim to buy online – a remarkable increase from the 54% registered in 2007. This implies that 43% of the population engage in online buying with 41% doing so on a regular basis. It seems people are starting to turn to online shopping for more advantageous deals. In fact, 59% of the population agree that prices on the Internet are more attractive than those in shops. Around 30% of eCommerce users claim to have made more than six online purchases in the last six months, whilst 50% have spent more than €120 in online shopping during the same period of time, excluding mobile topping up via the Internet. Electronic goods and clothing continue to be the most sought after items on the Internet, closely followed by books, whilst spare parts, flights and hotel accommodation are on the increase. 

As was already evident in the previous survey, people seem to be more inclined to make use of third party payment methods instead of paying by credit or debit cards. Although 22% of eCommerce users claim to have experienced problems whilst shopping online in the six months prior to the survey, only 4% claim that they did not sort out the problem yet. Buying from trusted companies and using third party payment methods top the list of precautions taken by online buyers, closely followed by selecting secure sites and maintaining low credit card limits. 

The survey also sought to gain information on reasons why people do not shop online. 73% of non-eCommerce users do not buy online because they prefer to handle items before committing to a purchase. 52% are afraid that the items will not be delivered at all or delivered damaged whilst another 52% are simply not interested or do not feel the need to buy from the Internet.

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