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Now it's a few weeks after Christmas, a few more stats on sales figures over the festive period have been released.
Due to the consumer downturn many retailers have reported a fall in like-for-like sales, but online retail has continued to grow this Christmas, though this is not necessarily enough to compensate for poor high street sales. Here's a round-up of some of the most recent e-commerce stats.
December's stats from the British Retail Consortium (PDF) paint a sorry picture for retailers, with the worst figures in the survey's history. The one bright spot was the growth in online sales. The BRC's non-food non-store category, which includes mail order as well as internet shopping, rose by 30% year-on-year.
Also, online growth was far stronger than in November, which suggests that customers are more confident about leaving online Xmas shopping later than in previous years, as well as the fact that more e-commerce sites were offering delivery dates closer to Christmas.
Interestingly, as well as making the comment that the rise in online sales "represents too small a part of total spending to compensate the poor performance of retailing overall", the BRC claims that online retail accounts for less than 4% of total UK retail sales, which is at odds with figures from sources like IMRG, which reported (PDF) that 17p in every pound was spent online in the UK in the first half of the year.
Traffic to top UK retailers' websites
According to Nielsen Online stats (pdf), Q4 traffic to the top 10 UK e-commerce sites was up by an average of 37% compared with the Christmas shopping period in 2007. Littlewoods (up 66%), Asda (53%) and Marks & Spencer (46%) had the largest year-on-year growth of the ten which, with the exception of Amazon and Play.com, were all multichannel retailers.
Debenhams, John Lewis and Play.com all reported online sales growth last week, and this week more retailers have followed suit. Catalogue and online retailer Shop Direct Group, which owns Littlewoods, saw its online sales rise by 44% on last year. Growth at Tesco was less impressive, with e-commerce sales rising by 18%