December 16, 2010, 2:22 PM

Two-thirds of online adults shop on the web

Pew research suggests that older baby boomers are the most avid online shoppers.

Allison Enright


Lead Photo

Of the 79% of all U.S. adults who go online, 66% buy from e-retailers, according to new research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. That suggests 52% of all U.S. adults are web shoppers.

Breaking the data on Internet users into generational categories shows that 69% of older baby boomers (ages 56-64) say they buy online, followed by 68% of so-called Millennials (ages 18-33), 66% of Generation Xers (ages 34-45), 64% of younger boomers (ages 45-55), 59% of the Silent generation (ages 65-73) and 57% of the G.I. generation (ages 74 and older). Teens, ages 12-17, were excluded from the adult calculation, but an earlier Pew survey indicates that 48% of them buy online.

Older boomers also outpace other generations in rating products and services. 40% of older online boomers say they rate products, services or people online, followed by 38% of the Silent generation. Less than a third—32%--of Millennials and Gen Xers rate products, services or people online. 32% also is the average across all adults who use the web.

Bidding at online auction sites such as eBay is more popular among younger generations, however. 31% of web-using Generation Xers participate in online auctions, followed by 28% of Millennials. 25% of baby boomers (45-64) participate in online auctions. The average across all adults is 26%.

Using e-mail is the most popular online activity among online adults. 90% or more of all adult age groups use it except for the G.I. generation, 88% of whose members use it. E-mail use drops significantly to 73% among teens. Pew says teens use social networks instead. “When teens do use e-mail, they tend to use it more in formal situations or when communicating with adults than to communicate with friends,” the report says.


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