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Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 20:24 GMT 21:24 UK

Business: The Economy

Hi-tech home shopping enjoys boom

Shoppers can order a new wardrobe of outfits online

The Internet and digital television have given a new lease of life to home shopping - and it's set for a further boom, according to a report.

The research, by retail analysts Verdict, predicts that hi-tech retailing is set to grow at a faster pace than traditional shops.

Last year the retail market grew by 3.8% overall while home shopping outperformed the High Street with an increase of 7.2%. Internet and television shopping grew by 41%.

Verdict found that the strongest growth was among joint ventures between traditional store retailers and catalogue companies.

But it warned: "Mail order is no quick-fix for physical retailers, nor is it a cheap or short-term solution for falling sales."

The report said joint ventures would drive much-needed increased volume of sales for retailers and "this new-found dynamism" would overhaul the stagnated home shopping market.

But Verdict analysts predicted that despite the growth, these modern methods of shopping would still have captured only 2.5% of total UK retail sales by 2003.

Opportunity, not threat

The report said: "All this activity reflects the transformation of a retail sector which until very recently was losing its share of the total shopping cake.

"The attractions of multi-channel retailing are becoming compelling with stores, catalogues, home delivery, TV and the Internet increasingly seen as opportunities rather than threats to established retail business."

Direct selling such as Avon Cosmetics held its 14% market share, although the big five home shopping companies - Great Universal Stores, Freemans, Littlewoods, Grattan and Empire - continued to dominate the catalogue sector.

Sales from direct catalogues grew by 17.5% last year to £2.34bn, with a 25% share of all home shopping.

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