UK web shoppers will spend £6.25 billion on groceries a year by 2010, an increase of 235% over last year, according to a study by Paypal.

Research by the payment firm suggests British online spending will double to £39 billion, with the grocery sector taking the lion’s share of the market.

It reckons the rise will be fuelled by a 71% increase in the number of UK internet shoppers to 24.9 million – 49% of the UK adult population.

Carl Olav Scheible, head of merchant services at PayPal, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve seen the internet gradually eating away at the high street.

Consumer interest in broadband has been a key driver for the emergence of ‘convenience home shopping’ with 10 million UK households now signed up.”

Paypal says that by 2010, the internet will generate an extra £3.2 billion pounds in overall consumer spending.

It says the sectors that will benefit most will be food and groceries, DIY and clothing.

DIY firms are expected to reap £1.2 billion, up 172% on last year, and clothing and footwear £2.27 billion, a 160% rise.
The online market for electrical goods, meanwhile, is expected to be worth £4.6 billion.

The figures follow various other bullish projections to have come out recently about online spending in the UK.

The Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), for example, said recently that British shoppers spent £13.5 billion online during the first half of 2006. It predicts the e-retail market will grow 36% to £26 billion this year.

Also, while Paypal reckons 49% of the UK population will be shopping online in 2010, the Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) says more people already do so. It says 25 million Brits made a purchase over the internet last year, up 11% on 2004.

Earlier this year E-consultancy told The Times that the total current market for online spending may have already surpassed £30bn, though we factored in all spending, including travel, financial services and gambling, which could already be worth as much as £5bn (Betfair alone processes £2.5bn in bets a year).