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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 15:19 GMT
E-shopping wins customer approval
Amazon web page
Amazon was one of UK shoppers' most popular destinations
Readers of BBC News Online have given a thumbs-up to internet shopping.

Several hundred people wrote in response to our Talking Point on Christmas e-shopping, and the vast majority of them were satisfied customers.

Online retailers say that Christmas trade grew rapidly in the UK, helped by long established High Street stores moving into cyberspace. Traditional retailers, such as Tesco, reported big increases in the turnover of their online operations.

One of the oldest and best known virtual shops, Amazon, reported that UK sales over the Christmas period more than doubled from a year ago. The firm dispatched a record 3.2 million items in the UK.

In the US, 31 million items were purchased via the web, compared to 20 million items the previous year.

Wider range of purchases

BBC News Online readers confirmed books, CDs, DVDs and mobile phones were the most popular online purchases.

But this year they also bought larger numbers of other goods and services including toys, theatre tickets and holiday bookings.

Melissa Loughran, in the UK, wrote: "I did about 50% of my Christmas shopping on-line this year, and felt very relaxed by the 25th. I realised that most of the stress I have experienced in previous years was due to days of traipsing around packed out shops!"

And F Morales in the US said: "I love it, no packed stores, no hassle with parking and you still get sales. I can browse at midnight and really shop around enabling me to get a greater diversity of goods".

Fraud fear

Several of our correspondents mentioned the fear of credit card fraud. People are still reluctant to send their credit card details over the web.

But John Hutchins, in England, told us: "Entering credit card numbers on the internet is no more or less secure than giving your number over the phone to a stranger, or handing your card to a waiter in a restaurant".

Cyberspace is no shopping nirvana, though.

David Llewellyn in England reported almost having his Christmas ruined by a failed delivery from Tesco Direct. When it finally arrived, a day and a half late, almost half the items were missing.

"We ended up with less than 24 hours to go out and buy basic items like dishwasher tablets, tonic water and brandy. I will consider carefully before shopping via the internet again," he said.

Here to stay

People also experienced problems when trying to return an item that didn't turn out to be what they expected. And some complained of poor customer service.

But, by and large, the feeling of our correspondents seemed to be that e-tailing is here to stay. As Gavin, in the UK, put it: "Slowly, but surely, the times they are a'changin'".

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See also:

02 Jan 01 | Business
Festive cheer for etailers
28 Dec 00 | Business
Amazon's sales soar
07 Nov 00 | Business
Christmas cracker for web retail
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