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Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 12:33 GMT
Festive cheer for etailers
Amazon screen grab
Online retailers are reporting that Christmas trade grew rapidly in the UK, helped by long established high street stores moving into cyberspace.

Tesco Online expects to smash all previous records and many other online companies are expected to report similar growth.

One of the oldest and best known virtual shops, Amazon, has already reported that UK sales over the Christmas period have more than doubled from a year ago.

The firm dispatched a record 3.2 million items in the UK.

And this is just a fraction of sales in the US, where 31 million items were purchased via the web, compared to 20 million items the previous year.
Tracy Island toy
Tracy Island toys sold out online in 30mins

Electronic goods, especially digital cameras, DVD players and mobile phones were amongst the most popular purchases from Amazon, rather than the books and compact discs it is more traditionally associated with.

And the newly launched toy store was also a hit, with toys such as the Thunderbird Tracy Island selling out within 30 minutes.

Widespread success

The company also claimed that more than 99% of orders were completed in time for Christmas.

Although it is too early for precise sales figures from other online ventures, the success is thought to be widespread.

The question now is whether the growth in sales is fast enough to meet the expectations of huge expansion on which many business plans were built.

The festive season in the UK was marked in 2000 by increasing number of traditional bricks-and-mortar stores taking the plunge and setting up shop on the web.

The year saw the launch of the John Lewis online department store which has reported a happy and successful first Christmas.

And traditional brands offering both real and virtual shopping facilities are seeing the same success as the pure online rivals, with customers eager to turn to the names they know and trust once they establish a presence in cyberspace.
Tesco online
Shopping has never been easier at Tesco online

Search engine reported that sales for internet-only retailers have doubled, whereas internet shopping at websites with outlets on the High Street have roughly tripled.

And food items have not been left out of the virtual shopping trolleys.

The Tesco group told BBC News Online that it too expected to smash all previous records.

The supermarket allocated an extra 10,000 home delivery slots, as well as appointing an extra 400 staff, to ensure that rising demand was met.

All the extra slots were eagerly snapped up.

The online retailers who got their delivery systems right this year (as opposed to the Christmas trees 12 months ago which arrived in January) will be hoping that shoppers are tempted to return to browse and buy online in the New Year.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Business
Amazon sales soar
11 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Where did the millionaires go?
16 Oct 00 | Business
Traditional retailers beat dot.coms
12 Oct 00 | Business
Net shopping 'pitfalls' warning
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