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2011 was yet another growth year for e-commerce in the UK, with the nation's shoppers spending a record £68bn. 

According to IMRG's e-Retail Index, this represents an increase of 16% over the previous year.

There was also a strong finish to the year, with £7.9bn spent online in December. 

According to IMRG CEO James Roper: 

The December results are incredibly impressive as the growth for the same period in 2010 was 25%, meaning it had to climb from a very high base.

We are forecasting growth of 13% moving into 2012, lower than our estimate for 2011 but it would still be an extremely positive performance given the economic climate and the fact that the online market has reached a degree of maturity now, meaning it can offer a really key contribution to help drive the economic recovery.

E-commerce sales 2011

  • A total of £68bn was spent online in the UK last year, an increase of 16% on 2010.
  • IMRG and Capgemini predict a further 13% growth for 2012, with total online sales reaching £77bn by the end of the year.
  • A record £7.9bn was spent online during December, which means 16.5% year-on-year growth.
  • This equates to £155 per person. 

Multichannel vs pure-play

  • High street and multichannel retailers experienced a decline in the second half of 2011, dropping from 25% to 14% growth.
  • By comparison, online only retailers saw sales rise from 11% in the first half of 2011 to 13% in the second half, perhaps due to customers prioritising lowest prices over the ease and familiarity of a high street brand.

Fastest growing sectors

Clothing, Home and Garden, and Health and Beauty experienced the highest year on year growth. 

The travel sector experienced a decline in growth, just 4% year on year, as economic circumstances forced consumers to make savings in this area.  

However, the average travel purchase has increased from £731 in 2010 to £850 in 2011, which reflects higher costs for flights as well as resilience in the luxury holiday market. 

Graham Charlton

Published 19 January, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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