UK’s online consumers spent £7.66 billion

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UK consumers spent £7.66 billion online in the 10-week run-up to Christmas – 50 per cent more than the £4.98 billion web sales during the same period in 2005, according to IMRG. The 2006 figure was more than double the 10-week period ahead of Christmas two years ago.

Online sales soared close to £1 billion a week during the first three weeks of December.

December’s e-tail sales reached £3.6 billion, making up for a slightly soft autumn. Total sales for 2006 rocketed to £30.2 billion, slightly higher than IMRG’s forecast of £30 billion.

IMRG managing director Jo Tucker said: “Consumers just couldn’t get enough of internet shopping at Christmas – it seemed to match their moods and aspirations.

“Web sites struggled to cope with the soaring traffic levels, stocks sold out early and delivery companies were at full stretch dispatching the 200 million parcels ordered. Sales demand outstripped supply capacity by a significant margin, otherwise sales would have been higher still.”

Online sales were strong across all sectors. After a slow November, due to unseasonably warm weather, the IMRG clothing/footwear/accessories index revealed December’s sales were 64 per cent higher than in 2005.

The IMRG electrical index recorded a 95 per cent rise in November’s sales to £700 million and December’s sales were up 50 per cent compared to the previous year.

According to the IMRG, the most staggering result came from the Gifts Index, which records online sales of gift-wrapped items such as flowers. It rose 148 per cent in November and 142 per cent in December compared to the previous year.

IMRG chief executive officer James Roper said: “Consumers want more from retailers. Much of the high street looks tired, uninspiring and inefficient, while, by comparison, much of online retailing looks fresh, vibrant and easy.

“The trend line shows e-tail growth continues to accelerate and, as more investment and improved technology makes everything about online shopping better, I expect it will continue to for several years.”

Source: Retail Week

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