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Joys of online shopping not just for the young

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

09:01, December 28, 2012

The elderly learn to shop online at a university for the elderly in Tianjin. (Xinhua/Zhang Chaoqun)

When Gao Zhenli, 50, arrived at the reception office of the hospital where she works, the receptionist immediately took out several express parcels for her to sign for and collect.

"The young receptionists have become familiar with me because I often come to get my parcels," says Gao, from Huangshi, Hubei province.

As a die-hard fan of online shopping, Gao makes purchases several times a month, and the money she spends ranges from several hundred to several thousand yuan. She often buys clothes, scarves, shoes, small electrical appliances and cookers on the Internet.

"I spend much more money than before, because unlike when I pay cash, online payment doesn't feel like I'm spending money. But I only buy what I need, and these things are really cheap," she says.

Her husband taught her how to surf the Internet several years ago. In 2007, she started cyber shopping after she opened an online bank account to pay her nephew's online bill. Then, her magical cyber journey began.

Like Gao, more and more elderly Chinese have been attracted to online shopping because of its convenience and low prices.

According to China Internet Network Information Center, at the end of June 2012 there were 538 million Chinese netizens and the proportion older than 50 had increased to 5.7 percent. The number of online shoppers over 50 in China is more than 1.7 million.

Chen Yuxin, a visiting professor from China Europe International Business School, says the elderly have sufficient time but limited income and mobility, and they are sensitive to prices. They prefer to shop around for the best price, which is precisely the advantage of online shopping.

"Once they are satisfied with the products, they will become regular customers as it's not easy to find goods in shops that are suitable for the aged. Nowadays, most items are designed for youngsters," he says.

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