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The UK’s online retailers generated some £46.6bn in sales last year, up 54% on 2006, according to new stats from the IMRG.

However, there were signs that the sector had not escaped the effects of the consumer credit crunch towards the end of the year.

The data, pulled together by Capgemini, shows electronics etailers did particularly well in the Xmas period, with 60% year-on-year growth in December.

The clothing sector saw a 28% jump during the month, while online beers, wines and spirits sellers benefited from a 20%+ increase.

However, December's e-commerce sales grew by only 0.2% over November – a trend the IMRG says reflected the credit crunch affecting UK consumers.

It also concedes that retailers with a presence on both the web and high street “seem to have done better” than their pure-play online competitors. 

Beyond that, the stats give more evidence of shopping patterns that became talking points after the Xmas sales rush....

  • Online shopping peaked in the first week of December, later than previous years – a sign that consumers delayed purchases to make the most of pre-Xmas discounting.
  • Another sign of increased wiliness among consumers was a smaller reduction in online sales in the final week of the year, suggesting they went online in droves to spend Xmas money and vouchers, the IMRG says. Clothing and electrical etailers benefited from this trend in particular.
  • 4m people also shopped online on Xmas Day thanks to online sales promotions by the likes of M&S, Comet and Dixons. They spent an estimated £84m between them, according to the IMRG figures.

Anthoula Madden, VP at Capgemini UK’s Consumer Products and Retail Team, adds:

“High street retailers have the benefits of brand recognition, robust delivery and distribution channels which can give them competitive advantage – they just need to ensure that they can offer consumers a multichannel experience to capitalise on the ever growing trend for online shopping.”

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Published 18 January, 2008 by Richard Maven

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