Online shops raise share to 15 per cent of spending

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The Independent Online

Online shopping was more popular than ever before in the run-up to Christmas, with e-commerce making up 15p in every £1 of retail spending.

Consumers spent £15.2bn online between October and December, bringing the year total to £46.6bn, a 54 per cent jump on that recorded in 2006, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The growth came at the expense of bricks and mortar retailers as shoppers avoided the chaos of the high street.

Specialist retailers were the strongest performers, with electronics enjoying sales growth of 60 per cent in December while clothing, a category that has been weak on the high street, experienced a 28 per cent increase on the same period last year. Although M&S reported disappointing Christmas sales, its online channel grew 78 per cent.

Anthoula Madden, from the business consultancy Capgemini, said: "Online retailing is developing so quickly that those who do not yet have an online presence really will get left behind." He added that the study showed that the retailers who have both a high street and an online presence seem to have done better than the "pure-plays".

James Roper, the chief executive of the e-retail organisation IMRG, said: "Consumers are making the most of the 24/7 convenience and competitive pricing that online shopping has to offer. Why would you fight the shopping crowd to buy a TV on the high street when you can arrange for it to be delivered to your home, at a time that suits you and often at a more competitive price? Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically over the past few years."

The data, collated by IMRG and analysed by Capgemini's consumer retail team, revealed that peak online shopping occurred in the first week of December, where there was a 9 per cent increase in all online sales. This is later than in previous years, indicating that consumers are making the most of pre-Christmas discounting.

DeVere Forster, the director of Dixons.co.uk, said the firm had noticed a new phenomenon in buying patterns which it named "e-camping". He said: "Thousands of keen buyers engaged in 'e-camping', mimicking the tradition of camping outside bricks and mortar stores, signing up for e-mail alerts to secure products with limited supply... as new stock arrived on our site."

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