Ordering groceries over the internet is fast becoming a favourite with technologysavvy shoppers in the West Midlands, according to new figures.

Nationally, despite the growth of internet supermarket shopping, just six per cent have used the web for their grocery shopping over the last month.

But in the Midlands, the figure rises to one in ten (ten per cent), double the number of Northerners who log-on for food. It is also people from the Midlands who spend the most - £23 compared with £9 in the North.

The figures are revealed in a new survey from internet broadband supplier Pipex.

It shows that busy consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for shopping - spending an average of £127 each in the last month, according to new figures.

Long working hours and hectic lives has led to the increase, said internet broadband provider Pipex.

Around 51 per cent of men and 43 per cent women have purchased goods online during the last month - spending £126 and £128 respectively.

As many as one in five (20 per cent) have purchased CDs and DVDs during the last month, and more than one in ten (12 per cent) have bypassed their high-street travel agent and purchased their holiday or flight on the net.

Furthermore, one in one have bought books while surfing the net.

Top five online purchases:

1. CDs/DVDs

2. Holidays/flights

3. Books

4. Computer games

5. Groceries ..TEXT Dominic Crolla, managing director of Pipex Internet, said: "For many, the traditional internet connection was too slow, so browsing for goods online was often a frustrating experience.

" The rapid growth of broadband over the last two years has helped alleviate consumer frustrations, so it's little wonder consumers spend so much each month.

"The increased speed enables consumers to search for a variety of goods at once, and greater security gives buyers greater peace of mind."

The survey also showed: n A quarter of men (24 per cent) buy their music and DVDs on the net, compared with just 17 per cent of women. n CDs are the top online purchase for thirty-somethings (22 per cent). By contrast, just 14 per cent of those in their fifties have bought CDs online. n Just three per cent of teenagers (16-19) have bought books online, choosing instead to purchase computer games (seven per cent) and DVDs (24 per cent.)

n Holidays and flights are top of the internet shopping list for 50-year-olds, almost one in five (17 per cent) having booked a trip online during the last month, compared with 11 per cent of thirty-somethings. n Holidays are the second top purchase for men (14 per cent), and third top for women (nine per cent). n Doing a weekly food shop online is more popular with 30-year-olds (11 per cent) than fifty-somethings (seven per cent). n People living in the North have spent the most each month on holidays, as much as £120 each month, almost twice as much as residents of the Midlands (£66) and almost more than three times more than Southerners (£35). n Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of residents of the Midlands have purchased DVDs/CDs online during the last month, compared with just 17 per cent of Northerners.

Meanwhile, Pipex Communications is to launch he UK's first high-speed internet access product using WiMAX technology by the end of 2005, according to executive chairman Peter Dubens.

WiMAX is the next generation of mobile internet access, and Pipex currently owns the only spectrum license that could be used to build up a WiMAX network across the UK.

Pipex will begin a trial of WiMAX services in the third quarter, with a view to offering " portable broadband to businesses by the end of the year," Mr Dubens said.

He added that the current trial, which will be undertaken in conjunction with an unnamed radio equipment group, could be the precursor to a potentially lucrative consumer mobile broadband product.

"This year we want to get a flavour for what WiMAX looks like, and the likelihood is that we can use that knowledge to launch a consumer package in

2006 or 2007," he said.

Telecoms industry regulator Ofcom is currently looking into selling more spectrum for WiMAX, which has long been touted as a means of delivering broadband to remote regions in the UK, as well as offering an alternative to fixed-line line and cable networks.