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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 16:28 GMT
Record Christmas for online shops
Oxford Street Christmas lights
Is the High Street losing its sparkle?
Online retailers had a record Christmas, with sales soaring 70% to 2.5bn, according to a trade body.

The Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) claims the 2003 festive season was a watershed in UK retailing.

"Thousands of retail outlets will close in the next few years, jobs will be lost and town centres will be transformed," said IMRG chief James Roper.

He said 10% of UK shopping would be done online by the end of the year.

Growing confidence

Online sales for December and November combined represented about 7% of all retail sales, according to the IMRG.

UK market share
1. E-bay - 25.5%
2. Amazon - 8.21%
3. Argos - 2.31%
4. eBayshops UK - 2.23%
5. Kelkoo - 2.14%
6. Play - 1.6%
7. Tesco - 1.55%
8. Argos Entertainment - 1.01%
9. Comet - 0;99%
10. Dealtime - 0.97%

Source: hitwise.co.uk

Meanwhile, Visa reported a 99% year-on-year increase in online spending in December.

Unlike previous Decembers, where online sales were similar to, or in the case of December 2002, less than the previous month, sales were considerably higher than in November.

Shoppers also went on spending right up to Christmas day for the first time, indicating their growing confidence in delivery systems.

The big winners were Argos, Tesco, Comet and Littlewoods, the IMRG said.

And it singled out WH Smith, House of Fraser and Selfridges as "online laggards", who "failed to embrace internet trading opportunities, helping to account for dismal festive trading as a whole".

UK retail failures 'set to soar'
19 Jan 04  |  Business

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