MOST people now have access to the internet at home, sparking a surge in online shopping this year.
A new report from the Central Statistics Office shows that 81pc of homes now have internet access, up from 63pc four years ago.
And that rises to a massive 96pc of traditional families with dependent children, although over a fifth of lone-parent families don't have the internet at home.
Some three-quarters of the population had used the internet within the last three months, with 58pc checking in daily, while daily use is now the norm for 78pc of young people aged 16-29, the statistics show.
Young people are twice as likely as older ones to have used the internet recently, showing there is a risk of the elderly population being left behind as more services and public information migrate online.
Email remains the most popular online activity for two-thirds of the population, but researching goods and services is close behind, followed by making travel arrangements.
Nearly half the population engages in social networking online, but this rises to 80pc of students and young people.
Internet shopping has risen in popularity as more people have the opportunity to do it from home. Travel and holiday accommodation remain the most popular internet purchases followed by buying tickets for events, at between 27pc and 30pc.
The numbers buying clothes and sports goods online rose from 17pc in 2011 to 20pc this year, while purchases of books, newspapers and e-learning rose from 14pc to 16pc.
Online purchases of shares and financial services also rose from 5pc to 7pc, and sales of computer software went up from 14pc to 16pc.
However, online food shopping failed to take off with only 4pc of the population doing remote grocery shopping, while online purchases of computer hardware halved to 4pc, and sales of electronic equipment also fell.
Some 43pc now bank online.
And Irish businesses are making above-average use of e-commerce within the EU the CSO study finds.
For those firms that do use e-commerce, online sales accounted for 21pc of total purchases compared with 16pc on average within Europe.