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One in ten of all credit card payments in the UK is now made online, according to the latest research from the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS).

The number of credit card payments made online has shot up five-fold since 1999 as punters increasingly use the Net to buy books, CDs, computer gear, holidays, financial services and groceries.

In the virtual world, men out-shop women with 35 per cent of blokes making eleven or more purchases in the second half of 2003, compared to only 27 per cent of women.

The new APACS data also shows that the UK's Net users are becoming increasingly dependent on the Wibbly Wobbly Web with almost 13m customers using Internet banking in 2003.

Sandra Quinn, APACS Director of Corporate Communications said: "It's no real surprise that the Internet is being used by more of us more of the time to shop and bank. It's convenient, secure and ideally suits the time-poor society we live in."

News that Internet-related spending is on the up should be good news for online retailers. However, recent research suggests that online retailers are still facing a battle of confidence with consumers as "etailers" face an uphill struggle to convince punters that shopping online isn't just about picking up a bargain.

According to Mintel, the single most important reason for consumers to shop online is price while the importance of stuff like reputation and brand comes way down the list.

Not only does this price fixation hit large retailers, it's especially difficult for smaller etailers that don't have the efficiencies of scale available to some of the larger players. ®

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