UK shoppers are expected to spend some £180m online today, making it the busiest day of the year for UK etailers.

The IMRG predicts today will see the most ever goods sold online in a single day, with etailers generating 40% more sales than last year’s high of £131m.

CEO James Roper said: “Monday… will be the biggest e-sales day of 2006, and it is interesting to note that more than a third of online shopping takes place either before or after traditional shopping hours. In the evening peak today, we estimate that online sales will be worth £11.7m per hour.”

While last year’s peak came on December 12, the IMRG thinks consumers are bringing forward their Xmas shopping plans in order to leave more time for deliveries.

More online shopping also tends to take place on weekdays as buyers use their PCs at work, while Mondays are busier because families discuss what they want  at the weekend.

Lunch-hour will be especially busy, with £14m worth of goods expected to be sold between 1pm and 2pm.

The etail peak comes three weeks before the busiest day for offline stores – £2.7bn is expected to be spent on the high street on 23 December.