LONDON (CNNfn) - The number of people buying products over the Internet has doubled to 20 million over the last year and now stands at more than one in four web-users, according to a new survey of online trade.
Some 78 million people used the Internet in the first six months of this year, according to the study by New York-based Nielsen Media Research and CommerceNet.
Of them, 48 million used the web to shop, an increase of more a third compared to a year ago. However, only 20 million actually bought anything.
Some 5.6 million surfers purchased books on-line, an increase of 3.3 million, while 4.4 million bought computer hardware and 4 million people purchased software.
The 2.8 million people who bought travel products over the web was more than twice the number last year while clothes, with 2.7 million purchasers, enjoyed a similar increase.
Some 71% of Web purchasers are men, 29% are women, the same split as 12 months ago. Women represent 36% of all on-line book buyers and 12% of all on-line computer hardware buyers.
Books, CDs, cassettes, videos and clothing are most popular among the 16-24 age group, while among persons 50 years and older, the top items purchased are books, software and computer hardware.
The figures are based on telephone interviews in the U.S. and Canada conducted in June, 1998 with nearly 5,000 randomly selected respondents age 16 and older.