One out of two people in Europe's 27-member bloc used the internet daily in 2009, but the area remains divided by geography, gender and age according to official figures released on December 8 by the European Union.
Whilst 65 percent of households across Europe on average have access to the internet, there is a high disparity between individual countries, ranging from 90 percent in Iceland and the Netherlands to only 30 percent in Bulgaria. Serbia, Greece, Romania, the Former Yugoslav Republic and Portugal also trail the table overall with under 50 percent of households having internet access.
The report estimates that 37 percent of Europeans have ordered goods or services over the internet in the last 12 months. However, the retail figures reflect the geographical distribution of access; while 66% of Britons have bought over the internet during the past 12 months, the figure falls to only 2% in Romania. There is also a gender disparity; in Europe overall 40 percent of men have shopped online compared to only 34 percent of women.
Age is also a key differentiator in internet takeup: 48 percent of Europeans aged 16-74 use the internet daily or almost daily, but that figure jumps to nearly three quarters (73%) of those aged 16-24.
Europe's Online Shopping Hotspots
Percentage of individuals aged 16-74 having bought or ordered goods or services for private use over the internet
1. Norway - 70%
2. United Kingdom - 66%
3. Denmark - 64%
4. Netherlands - 63%
5. Sweden - 63%
6. Luxembourg - 58%
7. Germany - 56%
8. Finland - 54%
9. France - 45%
10. Iceland - 44%