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EDITIONS
 Friday, 13 December, 2002, 22:22 GMT
'A landmark' for cyber shopping
Online shopper graphic
One way to avoid crowded pre-Christmas High Streets

Should we be surprised that UK-based shoppers spent more than 1bn online last month? Or that spending is double what it was a year ago?

The monthly spending figure is a watershed for cyber-shopping, but now it has arrived it seems less surprising than it once would have.

With 43% of homes now online, more of us than ever are accessing the net. And many people browse the net at work.

Meanwhile, High Street consumer spending has remained robust all year. If there is spending going on, why shouldn't some of it be done online?

Internet security

For many consumers, the biggest worry about shopping on the net has been security. Is it safe to enter your credit card details online. Can they be accessed by someone else?

So how have consumers put those fears to on side.

The answer lies in the list of companies behind these numbers.

Seventy e-retailers volunteered data for the IMRG's spending survey. The list contains many familiar High Street names - Boots, the Co-op, Next, Kingfisher, M&S.

As trusted High Street names have gradually moved online, it seems we consumers have been happy to follow.

Famous names

It proably hasn't hurt that some of our better known e-retailers are now geting a better press.

Shares in Lastminute.com may never regain their launch price, but the former darling of the stock market's dot.com boom has confounded its critics and will report a pre-tax profit next year.

But two things in IMRG's survey of internet shopping do make surprising reading.

Outpacing the US

The first is what we are buying. It's no longer just books and CDs. Clothing sales, for example, are running at around 600m a year.

The second is how the UK-based cyber shopping market compares with the United States.

In the country that gave the world Amazon and online auctioneer eBay, online sales are just 1.3% of total retail sales. Here they already make up 4%.

But most internet retailers will be too busy to notice these figures. Many will be flat out - in the midst of their busiest Christmas ever. Those that do may just see them as a landmark moment.

Proof that for convenience, speed and lower prices online shopping can be hard to beat. And proof that those early pioneering internet firms - most of which are long gone - were actually on to something.

See also:

11 Dec 02 | Business
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29 Nov 01 | Business
04 Oct 02 | Business
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