Online sales hit record levels

As the high street continues to reel under the pressures of the economic downturn, e-retailers enjoyed a record-breaking Christmas.

Consumers made online purchases worth £4.67 billion in December, an increase of 14 per cent for the same period a year ago, according to figures from IMRG, the online trade organisation.

For the whole of 2008, internet shoppers spent £43.8 billion, the equivalent to 15 per cent of the UK’s total retail market.

IMRG forecast that online sales will reach £50 billion in 2009 and will continue to rise by about 15 per cent a year in the future, a rate of growth aided by ever-faster broadband connections.

In ten years, IMRG predicted, nine out of ten retail transactions will either be conducted via the internet or will be influenced by it.

James Roper, head of IMRG, said: “Online shopping is getting a lot better, and there’s lots of potential.”