Press releases

Online Xmas shoppers who take their time will reap rewards

Online shoppers who 'take a little more time' searching for Christmas presents can expect to reap the cash rewards, according to a new survey by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI).

Shoppers who searched online for half-an-hour for one of a range of products secured cheaper prices on average than when they looked for just five minutes.

The price difference achieved varied from an average £14.45 saving on a silver iPod Nano 4GB to an average £86.20 saving on a Sony Bravia 26' digital TV, said survey organiser Richard Webb, TSI's lead officer on e-commerce.

The findings demonstrate that spending more time and effort using the Internet to search out the best deals can make a significant cash difference, he said.

'It's definitely worth spending extra time searching out the best deals, and this shopping survey demonstrates that the dividends can be substantial.'

The sample survey, carried out over the last fortnight, supports the findings of a major market study into online shopping, carried out by the Office of Fair Trading, which estimated that by searching more effectively shoppers could save between £150m and £240m each year.

Mr Webb said: 'One team searched for an Olympus 7 megapixel digital camera and found that the best online price obtained after 30 minutes was £169.99, nearly £35 less than the best price achieved after a five minute search.

'However, shoppers also need to be clear that the price on offer is not all that matters. Indeed, we would always counsel caution if a deal really does seem to be too good to be true.

'Shoppers should also take into account additional charges, including delivery, whether there are any warranties or insurances included, and the reputation of the company they are purchasing their product from. They need to be confident that they will not be left out of pocket if anything goes wrong.'

The survey was carried out to mark National Consumer Week, which is launched on Monday (12 November).

The theme of the week is 'Shopping From Afar? Know What Your Rights Are!' It aims to raise awareness among consumers of their rights and responsibilities when shopping online, and to highlight the potential pitfalls involved.

Consumer Direct, supporting the week for the third year, has produced a series of top tips for shoppers buying online to help them find the best deal while also shopping safely.

Shoppers are urged to:

  • shop around by using price comparison sites and multiple search engines
  • when comparing prices, check that the advertised price includes everything you have to pay, eg tax and delivery charges.
  • know who you are dealing with
  • check the trader's details on their website, including their geographic and email addresses
  • don't assume '.uk' means that the seller is based in the UK
  • read all trader reviews and help others by writing reviews when you make purchases
  • check if the seller is a member of a trust scheme, such as Internet Shopping Is Safe (ISIS) or Safebuy as a sign that the retailer is committed to good practice.

James Roper, Chief Executive of IMRG, the e-retail industry body which runs the ISIS scheme, said: 'Internet shopping brings consumers great convenience, choice and competitive prices, as its rapid growth indicates, so our industry is very pleased to be working co-operatively with TSI and Consumer Direct towards making e-retail the safest way to shop.'

For more information about National Consumer Week, including press releases, interviews and case studies, please contact the TSI press office on 0845 608 9430 or email pressoffice@tsi.org.uk

National Consumer Week is launched at the Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX on Monday November 12, from 10am to noon. Senior representatives of TSI, Consumer Direct and the OFT will be joined by consumer affairs minister Gareth Thomas and local authority trading standards officers at the event, which will be followed by the TSI media awards presentations. Journalists and broadcasters are welcome to attend - please notify the press office of your requirements. A full press pack, including case studies, will be available at the launch.

About the survey

A small sample group of individual volunteer shoppers, who received no specialist advice in advance, searched online for five minutes for a specified product. They then took a break before searching online for the same product for 30 minutes.

The best price obtained after five minutes was compared with the best price obtained after 30 minutes to give an individual price difference. The results were tallied to produce the average saving achieved.

The products involved (with, in brackets, the average saving achieved when comparing the best price after 30 minutes to the best price after 5 minutes) were:

  • Sony 26' Bravia HD ready digital LCD TV with Freeview (£86.20 saving)
  • Olympus 7 megapixels digital camera MJU 770SW (£21.50 saving)
  • Outwell Vermont M 4-berth tent (£10 saving)
  • Silver Apple iPod Nano 4GB (£14.45 saving)
  • Prison Break Series 2 DVD boxed set (£10.93 saving)

National Consumer Week

This is the 17th annual National Consumer Week organised by the Trading Standards Institute and for the third year in association with Consumer Direct, the government-funded consumer advice telephone and online service.

National Consumer Week is a platform to raise awareness about specific consumer issues and particularly to highlight new developments in an increasingly complex and competitive marketplace. It profiles the work of and is supported by local authority trading standards services across the UK.

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.

Consumer Direct - 08454 04 05 06

Consumer Direct is a Government-funded telephone and online consumer advice service that works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards Services. It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services. Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.

Calls cost a maximum of 4p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles or other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call. The advice and information given is free.