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Online sales defy retail slump

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Clothing, footwear and the accessories sector were the biggest winners, according to the e-Retail survey, with spending up 32 per cent year-on-year. The online electrical stores saw a boost too, with a 22 per cent increase in sales.

Daniel Crown, CEO of £10m-turnover beauty website Lookfantastic.com, says: “We had a great start to the year. Customer activity was consistently strong over the entire month. People wait for a post-Christmas market more than ever.”

Online spending in the January sales reached a record high of over £4.5 billion, with £74 spent online for every person in the UK. And this boom in online spending is set to continue. Capgemini predicts monthly growth of 15 per cent for online sales throughout 2009.

Dan Mountain, MD of gift and experience site Buyagift.co.uk, says:  “We saw a fantastic uplift in sales in January. Sales were 49 per cent up on January 2007. This is significantly higher than we had forecast. Our average transaction is now around £85, compared to £68 in January 2007.”

Mike Petevinos, head of retail consulting at Capgemini UK, says: "People go online for inherent benefits like choice, price transparency and the ability to research prices, and these advantages are even more acute in an environment where people are watching their spending."

It is estimated that between ten and 18 per cent of retail sales are currently carried out online. Petevinos expects that to eventually peak at between 30 and 50 per cent.

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