ČSÚ: Almost half of Czechs shop online

But the country lags behind the EU average in many areas

Some 77 percent of Czechs have internet access and the number of those who shop online is rising, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). But the country still lags behind Western Europe in many online areas.

“In the second quarter, 4.5 million Czechs over the age of 16 reported that they bought something over the Internet at least once a year. Ten years ago, this was a marginal service used by only 15 percent of the adult Czech population or about 1.3 million people,” ČSÚ chairman Iva Ritschelová said in a press release. Women over the internet mainly buy clothing and footwear, food and health aid, toys and board games or books, newspapers and magazines. Men mainly buy electronics and sporting goods.

“More and more people are using e-shops to buy food. Since 2010, the proportion of people buying food over the internet has grown from almost 1 percent to 11 percent,” said Martin Mana, director of the ČSÚ's Statistics Development Division.

Compared to Europe, Czechs are still slightly below average in online shopping. “While 47 percent of Czechs bought online last year, the average EU average was 55 percent. The countries that buy the most on the internet are Britain (83 percent) and Denmark (82 percent),” Lenka Weichetová from the ČSÚ's Statistics Development Division said.

Apart from shopping, the Czechs also use the internet to manage their finances. In the second quarter of this year, 52 percent of adults used Internet banking. Ten years ago, it was only one-tenth of the population over 16 years old.

Most people use the Internet for sending emails, searching for information about goods and services or reading online news. Social networking is used by 44 percent of individuals. Most of them are aged 16 to 24. Some 93 percent of that age group uses social media. These figures also are below the EU averages.

Relatively few are currently using new online shared services for car rides or accommodation. Some 4 percent of Czechs have arranged accommodation from private persons over the Internet.

Arranging for shared accommodation using the internet is mainly used by persons aged 25 to 44 with a university education. Some 2 percent of the population has used internet ride sharing. Students (8 percent) are the group to use shared ride services the most.

Not all groups have equal access. “In the case of computer equipment, we are lagging compared to Western European countries for retired and low-income households,” ČSÚ's Mana said at a press conference.

In 2005, some 30 percent had computers and just under 20 percent had internet, now both are about three quarters. However, the Czech Republic lags behind the developed countries. In Europe, Scandinavian countries, the Benelux countries, the United Kingdom and Germany have the highest levels.

Twelve years ago 32 percent of people over 16 years of age used the internet, this year it is 79 percent. In the age category of 65 and over, the internet was used by 34 percent. But this is an improvement over 2007 when it was 4 percent for that age group.

The number of internet users on mobile phones is also growing, but the Czech Republic is again behind the EU average. While it is over 60 percent across the EU for people aged 16 to 74, in the Czech Republic it is less than 50 percent. In the age range of 16 to 24 years, mobile internet is used by 87 percent and for Czechs, over 65 it is only6 percent.

Only Poland, Bulgaria and Romania have lower overall levels of mobile internet usage, according to Eurostat figures. The highest use is in Denmark, the Netherlands, The UK, and Luxembourg, all over 80 percent.

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