Nearly half (48%) of online teens buy things online like books, clothing or music, a practice that has been steadily increasing since the question was first asked in December 2000, when 31% of online teens made online purchases. Older teens ages 14-17 are more likely to buy items online – more than half (53%) of online teens in this age group have purchased items online, while 38% of middle school aged teens have made online purchases. Older girls drive this trend, with 57% of online girls ages 14-17 making online purchases while less than half (48%) of online boys the same age buy things online.
In both 2000 and 2009, teens living in households with higher incomes and education levels were consistently more likely to buy things online. The most striking differences between 2000 and today relate to gender. Older teens were and are more likely to buy online. However, older boys were the most likely online purchasers in 2000, while older girls lead the trend in 2009.
As one would expect, adults purchase goods online at a much higher rate than teens. As of April 2009, three in four online adults (75%) report purchasing a product online such as books, music, toys or clothing. That figure has increased at a fairly steady rate since Pew Internet first began asking this question in March 2000. At that time, about half of all online adults (48%) had ever purchased a product online.
Overall, white adult internet users are more likely to purchase products online than African American adult internet users (77% v. 60%), and educational attainment and income are both positively correlated with online shopping. More than eight in ten adult internet users (85%) living in households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more have purchased something online; that figure drops to 64% among internet users living in households with incomes below $50,000.
Other drivers of online shopping are wireless internet use and a broadband connection at home. Eight in ten wireless internet users (80%) have bought a product online, compared with just six in ten internet users who are not wireless (62%). Likewise, home broadband users are more likely than those without broadband at home (81% v. 64%) to be online shoppers.