Hong Kong consumers spend an estimated HK$170 million a month in online purchases, according to a survey by market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres. Although security remains a major concern for SAR shoppers, Taylor Nelson found that the audience for online shopping had increased slightly in Hong Kong over the past year. Using a sample of 1,008 people aged between 15 and 65, the firm estimated that 4 per cent of the total population made purchases online within the previous month, up from 3 per cent a year earlier. Another 22 per cent used the Web to research purchases before physically going to stores to buy, up from 13 per cent last year. The respondents were questioned in April and last month. Nelson Taylor's regional director for telecoms and technology Chan Chi-Wing said the hype over online shopping was over, with many Hong Kong respondents still concerned about whether giving out their credit-card details was safe. For those who did make purchases online, the average expenditure was HK$858 a month for the period covered. Hong Kong has one of the highest global acceptance rates for buying cinema tickets online. Of those who shopped online, 29 per cent said they had bought cinema tickets, while 28 per cent had bought books. Music, electronics, toiletries and groceries were also popular purchases. Mr Chan cautioned against extrapolating an annual sales figure from the HK$858 estimate because of seasonal purchasing differences. The global survey covered 42,238 interviews and showed a steadily growing acceptance of online shopping, as well as a big difference between men and women when it came to spending online. 'My interpretation is males are more familiar with the Internet and have a bit more confidence in the Internet, and females are a bit more passionate about touching products,' he said. Mr Chan noted that many of his firm's clients were less focused on consumer retailing and more concerned with building Web portals and other data applications that allowed customers and employees to access company databases online. 'Companies are struggling with whether they invest more on technology or less and if they invest more, how it affects their profit margins and improves their efficiency,' he said.