Key Points:

Over a million New Zealanders now shop online, with flights the most popular purchase, figures show.

The first Neilsen NetRatings online retail monitor released yesterday suggests that over one month from last December to January 66 per cent of adult internet users made a purchase online. The average amount spent was $774. About 95 per cent researched goods or services on the internet.

By comparison, 54 per cent of Australians made an online purchase in the lead-up to Christmas, while 87 per cent researched goods or services online. The average amount spent was A$570 ($649).

Senior analyst Tony Boyte said the data indicated about 1.3 million Kiwis were prepared to buy online.

He said this was mainly because of the ease of comparing products and prices over the internet.

"Other major reasons are avoiding crowds, the availability of a wider selection of products, and reduced internet prices for certain items."

Flights were the most popular item, with online ticket sales increasingly encouraged by airlines and booking agencies.

The launch of the new monitor was supported by Telecom's online shopping mall, Ferrit.co.nz and other sponsors.

But Boyte stressed that sponsors were not able to influence the results, as his organisation was independent.

The initial results are based on 759 completed surveys after around 4000 users were invited to take part.

That raised the possibility the results could be interpreted as saying 66 per cent of those motivated to complete the survey had bought online, rather than two-thirds of the 4000.

But Boyte believed the results would have been roughly the same if all 4000 had completed the survey.

Ferrit's market strategy manager, Cate Bryant, said the online monitor would help retailers to improve their web-based offerings.


Surf's Up

* A survey suggests that over a month two-thirds of adult internet users bought something online.

* Flight tickets were the most popular purchase.