Online clothing sales surge by 44 per cent to pass £1bn mark

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The Independent Online

Internet sales of clothing have passed the £1bn-a-year mark, despite customers not being able to try things on before they buy.

Mintel reported a five-fold rise in sales of clothing and footwear online since 2001 and a 44 per cent surge to £1.4bn last year.

In a poll, adults said the biggest motivation for buying online was not having to hunt for the right size, followed by the ability to avoid high street shopping.

The biggest disadvantage was that people liked to try on clothes. Some 42 per cent of adults said they would like to see video clips of models wearing the clothes.

Online fashion sales - worth £253m in 2001 - now account for 3 per cent of total sales.

Mintel believes the strong growth will continue and expected more shops to set up websites for custom. Some retailers offer only a fraction of their range online while others, such as Zara, Selfridges, Matalan, Bhs and Primark, have no online clothing shopping at all.

A marketing director for a home shopping group interviewed for the report, Fashion Online, said: "We are seeing a sharp growth in our online demand and sales. Roughly speaking, they are going up 50 per cent every year and that shows no signs of slowing down." Next Directory was the biggest single player in the online clothes market.