Internet shopping enjoys £510m Christmas boom

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Britons not only flocked to the high street this Christmas, they also headed for websites in record numbers, spending £510m online in December, a jump of 68 per cent on the previous year.

British and German websites were the busiest in Europe, with nine million and ten million people respectively visiting them, constituting almost two-thirds of all visits to retail websites across Europe, research by the company Jupiter MMXI showed.

The growth in the number of people visiting online retail websites was also much faster than the growth in the number of people joining the internet in Britain, at 40 per cent compared to 27 per cent. That suggests that both first-time and experienced surfers had decided to use shopping sites,where in the past new users were reluctant to trust online shops.

The most popular site was amazon.co.uk, the British subsidiary of the online shop which sells books and CDs. Nearly three million people visited it, while another one-and-a-half million people visited its US parent.

The next most popular retail site was the catalogue chain Argos, followed by the supermarket chain Tesco, and the electric goods group Comet. WH Smith, John Lewis, and Marks & Spencer also figured in the top ten.

"Europeans have come to accept the internet as part of their lives," said Patricia Lueer, an analyst at Jupiter MMXI.

"The challenge for retailers is to keep customers loyal by staying in touch with them and convincing them to keep using their sites." Retailers, she warned, could not afford to rest on their successes.

Films were not overlooked either: last month the two sites hosting information about Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone and The Lord Of The Rings were respectively the third and the 15th most popular among UK surfers.

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