Record online sales predicted this Christmas

Record online sales predicted this Christmas

Better security and rise in broadband are helping to drive consumers to shop online

Over £13.8bn is set to be spent by the UK's 27 million e-shoppers during the festive season this year, according to Forrester Research.

Compared to the Interactive Media in Retail Group's (IMRG) 2006 data this is up 42 per cent on last Christmas.

The rise in online spending is being put down to many factors including more choice, convenience and better prices available online. But also 61 per cent of UK homes are now connected to the internet, which accounts for 15.2 million households, according to National Statistics.

Consumers' confidence in shopping online is also rising. According to the latest IMRG Customer Service Index by eDigitalResearch and ipoints, confidence in web site security rose two percentage points in the past quarter to 75.6 per cent.

Gerald Kitchen, chief executive of SecureTrading said: "It was not long ago that consumers were uncomfortable with even purchasing low ticket value items like a CD. Today, we are seeing consumers purchasing items costing thousands of pounds."

The IMRG Customer Service Index also revealed that customer delivery satisfaction had risen to 80.2 per cent.

The demographic profile of the web is also changing which is feeding the growth. The UK internet population is now split almost equally between males (51.5 per cent) and females (48.5 per cent), according to the latest Nielsen/Netratings.

Reflecting this change in profile of online shoppers, retailers are seeing buying patterns altering on their sites and in some cases are opening new departments and product areas to capitalise on these new customers, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Ulric Jérome, managing director of consumer electronics e-tailer Pixmania, said: "We have seen sales growth among the older generation of 'silver surfers' and women. They now see the value of technology and have more disposable income than previous generations, meaning technology products are becoming a part of the DNA of their lifestyle. They now embrace technology and understand the ease-of-use and convenience of online shopping better than ever."

Jonathan Wall, marketing manager at, added: "Shoppers continue to use the internet as an easy way to seek out best value, especially at Christmas time when budgets can be tight. Retailers such as have used the flexibility of their online store to create special "bundle deals" which offer extra discount and help stretch the festive budget even further."