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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 07:29 GMT
One in three buy presents online
Christmas shoppers in Cardiff city centre
Last minute shoppers search for a seasonal bargain
One in three shoppers in Wales are buying their presents online this Christmas, according to an opinion poll for the BBC Wales news website.

But nearly nine in 10 still like to gift shop in towns and cities and 75% also support their local retailers.

The average festive spend was 720 per person - a higher figure, it is claimed, than the rest of the UK.

But a retail analyst said the level of online shopping in Wales was "average or slightly below" the UK as a whole.

Analyst Judith Clegg said the poll's results also supported the boom in online buying generally brought about by three factors - more accessible broadband; customers being sure of delivery and more bargains available over the net.

RESULTS OF WALES CHRISTMAS SPENDING POLL
Last minute Christmas shoppers out in Cardiff
Average spend of 720 rising to 1,014 among 35-54 age group
26 presents bought on average, with women (32) buying more than men (19)
86% buy in towns or city centres, 76% also buying in local shops. Out-of-town also popular (50%) while 30% buy online and 24% shop outside Wales

According to Ms Clegg, there has been a 50% increase in online shopping in the last few months across the UK.

"Grocery shopping online alone has risen from five to 17% in the last three months," she said.

She said the poll showed people in Wales were spending more than the rest of the UK on buying gifts, while people living elsewhere would rather spend on eating out.

Wrexham council worker Jane Purdie, 38, has shopped for about 75% of her gifts online.

She said: "I have done more this year than in the past, mainly because I'm so busy at work. I do find it very convenient.

"They have got better and they do deliver things the next day. And they nearly always deliver in plain cardboard boxes which means they stay hidden from the kids."

Fifty presents, many for sons Jake, 11, and Greg, 10, and husband Shaun, have been bought in forays onto the net in the evening, Mrs Purdie said.

"I buy toys, books, CDs, DVDs - even clothes although I'm a bit iffy about that," she said.

Online shopper Jane Purdie says its convenient
Jane Purdie: Three quarters of her shopping has been online

Steve Aicheler from Wales-based website Blushing Buyer.co.uk said turnover was up 20% this Christmas.

He said: "The online industry has matured over the last three years. People know what they are doing now. They are making promises that they can keep.

"People know for a fact that they can order items and they will turn up. They can also buy items they won't find on the high street. "

Old-fashioned shopping appears to be losing out as consumers wait for sales and promotions to begin, say retailers.

Richard Garratt from the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet at Bridgend said a lot more people had visited the centre in the run-up to Christmas but they had held back on their spending until the last week before Christmas.

Asked whether sales would be up on last year, he said it was "too difficult to call".

He added: "We have been selling a lot more products but the item value has dropped and we're having to sell a lot more just to draw level."

'Absolutely fabulous'

David Hughes-Lewis, chair of Cardiff Retail Partnership, agreed customers had been spending less money.

He said: "We all expected that it would be a funny Christmas in as much as people were holding back, waiting for retailers going to put on sales and promotions.

"It was late coming, but it's absolutely fabulous now. Cardiff is booming this week."

Shoppers still like to go into the city centre shops as opposed to clicking on a website, Mr Hughes-Lewis said.

He added: "At the end of the day shopping is retail therapy for most people."

1,055 people across Wales were quizzed in the phone poll by ICM earlier this month.


SEE ALSO:
Christmas boost for retail sales
21 Dec 05 |  Business
Last festive push at online shops
20 Dec 05 |  Business


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