Brits spend over £4bn online in July

Saturday, 1 September 2007

UK consumers flocked to internet stores in July, racking up £4.2bn in sales, according to the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) which tracks e-commerce in the UK.

Sales for the month were £1.86bn up on July 2006, an improvement of 80 per cent, and exceeded £4bn in a month for the first time.

The figures suggest that online shopping is rapidly catching up with the high street, where the average value of weekly sales in July was £5bn, 3.3 per cent higher than July 2006, according to National Statistics.

"Since the beginning of the year we have seen that confidence in internet shopping has reached a very high level in the minds of consumers," said Ulric Jérome, managing director for France and Northern Europe at online shopping site Pixmania.

"Our feedback shows that most UK customers are now coming directly to our web shop without first shopping or looking around in high street stores.

"Shoppers recognise that most internet sites are becoming more and more professional, trying to get the best of the offline experience online."

Electrical goods saw the highest sales growth in online shopping, recording sales 102 per cent higher than a year ago.

Clothing was also strong online, seeing a 56 per cent increase from a year ago and reaching a new all-time high of 1,587 per cent growth from February 2001 to July 2007.

Jo Evans, managing director of the Index programme at IMRG, said that she was surprised by the strength of July's growth.

"It reveals the extent to which the retail sector is being transformed by frictionless e-commerce," she said.

"Major brands are bringing in the next generation of slick new internet retailing services, and consumers are flocking to use them."

IMRG puts July's online shopping frenzy down to several factors, including the wet weather which inhibited travelling and encouraged people to shop online. Many people were also forced to replace water-damaged goods.

"During the early years of this decade the e-retail industry was starved of investment - a backlash from the bust of 2000," said IMRG chief executive James Roper.

"Although we saw consumer demand outstripping internet retail supply, when annual growth fell to just 9.4 per cent in December 2004 and 13.4 per cent the following February, many people assumed that the sector had peaked.

"Then new investment began to arrive. At first just a trickle of new money and a handful of IPOs appeared, but two years later there is a flood of serious capital being applied to building e-retail infrastructures."

Roper predicted a "massive potential for improvement available for e-retail growth to continue for many years to come".


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