Many people in the UK rate having access to the internet as one of their highest priorities, ahead of a range of other luxuries, new research has found.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed the average Briton places a value of £2,175 per year on their ability to get online – nine times more than what is typically paid for internet services.
Almost four out of five individuals (78 per cent) say they would opt to give up chocolate for year before they would surrender their internet access, while 76 per cent would rather give up coffee and 65 per cent would be prepared to go without alcohol in order to keep their connection.
The report also found the UK has a larger internet-based economy than any other G20 nation as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP).
In 2010, 8.3 per cent of the country's GDP came from online-based business, BCG claimed, amounting to £121 billion.
This is more than is contributed to the economy by healthcare, education or construction and is projected to increase to £225 billion by 2016, the research stated.
It observed 13.5 per cent of retail sales were performed over the internet in 2010, while a further 11.5 per cent of purchases were researched using the internet before being bought offline.
Commenting on the findings, managing director of Google UK Dan Cobley said: "This report is massively encouraging and shows that the UK internet is leading the world in e-commerce."
Co-author of the paper and partner at BCG Paul Zwillenberg added: "The internet economy offers one of the world's few unfettered growth stories."
Recently, it was also claimed by research firm Gartner that the advent of connected technologies – which may include smartphones, tablets or web-enabled printers – are leading to more digital lifestyles.
As a result, growing numbers of people are demanding access to their files wherever they go, which could allow them to watch videos while on the move or use ink supplies to print photos and work documents remotely.