The majority of consumers expect to shop online at least as much as they did in 2020, according to a survey by communications regulator ComReg.

A report into the parcel delivery sector found that two out three consumers had bought more online over the past three years, with a particular surge occuring since the pandemic.

That increase looks set to be sustained, as a survey of consumers found that half plan on maintaining their 2020 level of online shopping in the near future.

A further one in five said they see themselves buying more online in the coming year.

The ComReg survey found that more than 60% of consumers shopped online because of more competitive pricing, while 57% were attracted to the convenience of delivery.

The survey found that 70% of SMEs selling online also expect demand to increase in the next three years, while some parcel delivery operators are planning expansions to handle the increased demand.

That was helping the parcel delivery business to sustained growth, with combined revenues of €722m by 2019.

ComReg's report estimates that that represents sectoral growth of between 4% and 9% between 2013 and 2019.

It said there were seven main operators - An Post, DPD, DHL, Fastway, GLS, TNT and UPS/Nightline - though there were also some smaller entrants to the market in recent years.

That includes Amazon, which has begun to use its own "delivery partners" in Ireland.

The cost of delivery was a key consideration for consumers as well as SMEs selling online, which has led to an intensification of competition in the market in recent years.

However the ComReg report also shows that businesses also valued the reliability of a service, while consumers were increasingly seeking other innovations, such as better tracking services.