Page last updated at 03:55 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 04:55 UK

Online shopping 'defies slowdown'

Woman shopping
About 4,000 shoppers were quizzed for the report

Online retailing is continuing to boom in the UK despite pessimism about the economy, according to a survey.

The amount of money spent by consumers shopping online increased by 35% to £14.7bn last year, retail analysts Verdict Research said.

The growth rate - the fastest in six years - is about 10 times that of the UK's retail market as whole.

Among 4,000 shoppers quizzed, making better use of leisure time was the main reason given for online shopping.

The internet is widely perceived as a cheaper and easier way of finding lower prices and bargains in most sectors
Malcolm Pinkerton
Verdict Research

The growth in internet access and users making more regular and expensive purchases online meant the growth would continue, Verdict's report suggested.

It forecast that online retail sales would reach £44.9bn by 2012, about 13.8% of total spending.

But while some of this was "cannibalisation" - people buying via their computers what they would previously have gone to shops for - physical shopping was far from doomed, the report said.

"There is still a need and place for physical locations - the key is to ensure that synergies with online retailing are exploited to drive footfall to stores," Verdict said.

The total value of online retail expenditure

"While having an Internet presence is vital, giving the consumer choice by establishing strong links between the in-store and online offer is now essential."

The development of faster broadband had made the process of shopping quicker and easier for many people, Verdict concluded, while many saw it as a way of getting cheaper prices.

“The internet is widely perceived as a cheaper and easier way of finding lower prices and bargains in most sectors," said Malcolm Pinkerton, Verdict's senior retail analyst.

"As the cost of broadband falls, consumers become accustomed to internet shopping and retailers continue to enhance their online propositions, the channel will find itself extremely well-placed to capitalise on the falling consumer confidence and lower levels of disposable income currently impacting the retail market."

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