Online Christmas shoppers set to cost high street £9bn

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The high street is set to lose nearly £9bn to online rivals this Christmas as shoppers spurn traditional stores in favour of the web.

More people than ever before are expected to use the internet for their festive shopping, with a significant proportion predicting that they will not be bothering with the sites of high street retailers.

The research, carried out on behalf of mobile services group Motricity, concluded that high-street stores can therefore expect to lose around 37.5 per cent of festive trading to online-only companies such as Amazon and eBay - a total of £9bn.

"This has been a trend that we have seen over the last few years," said Motricity's business director for Europe, Richard Sedgwick. "£9bn is quite a startling number but it's down to momentum.

"What this shows is solid behaviour - this is not a blip or a fad. As we get more channels, and broadband connections increase, shopping online becomes more accessible and convenient. So I don't doubt this is set to continue. The challenge is whether the high street retailers fully embrace these new channels."

A number of traditional retailers have complained of a slowdown in spending this year and a chilly Christmas for the sector is feared. However, consumers are still expected to spend enthusiastically, if not quite as exuberantly as in previous years. The research group Mintel is predicting shoppers will splash out £24bn.

The recent cold weather has also helped lure people back to the high street to pick up warm clothes and other seasonal items.

Motricity surveyed more than 2,000 adults aged 16-plus. Just over 76 per cent said they would do their festive shopping over the internet, with around half of them then stating they would not be using the websites of high street shops.