Logging on for Xmas shopping

2006-11-06 07:52
London - Britons will spend a record seven billion pounds on online purchases in the run-up to Christmas, a 40% rise on last year, a survey predicted.

E-retailing body Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) said an average of four million pounds will be spent via the internet every hour across the country in the weeks to December 25.

The total seven billion pounds compares to five billion in the same period in 2005 and 3.3 billion in 2004, it added.

IMRG chief executive James Roper said the online shopping boom was down to more sophisticated websites, increased consumer awareness of goods via the internet and a greater take-up of broadband connections at home.

"The internet has become the most reliable way to shop. With real-time product availability becoming the norm at the leading e-retailers, consumers can tick off their shopping lists with certainty rather than pinning their hopes on pounding the pavements," he said.

Clothing appeared to be the biggest growth sector but electrical goods still accounted for the lion's share of sales, making up one-fifth of all items sold online at Christmas.

The release of the survey coincided with the arrival in Britain of one of the world's largest ships containing 45 000 tons of toys, books, computers, Christmas crackers, decorations and food from China.

Campaigners including the Green Party have expressed concern at the environmental impact of such long distance trade and its effect on trade and employment in developing countries.

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