UK consumers spent Â£4.67bn shopping on the web in December.
According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index for the month, the figure represents an increase of 14.2 per cent year-on-year and is equal to every person in the UK spending Â£76.67.
However month-on-month growth was down 1.5 per cent - the first fall in the index since December 2002. The report authors attributed the drop to the peak shopping weekend for the holiday period falling at the end of November, rather than in December itself.
Supporting research by Capgemini examining the habits of 2,000 shoppers showed that nearly half of consumers went to websites to research best prices, while a third did more than half of their Christmas shopping online.
Sixty per cent of those who did the majority of their Christmas shopping on the web also said they spent more online this year than last year.
The favourite purchases for many online shoppers this year were items of clothing, with the category showing a year-on-year sales increase of 32 per cent and an average online spend of Â£57 for December. However, online spend on alcohol dipped by 16 per cent compared to last year, although the month's average spend on booze was Â£67.
Neil Samsom, marketing director for online clothing retailer M and M Direct, told silicon.com sales increases for the company in the 10 weeks to 4 January 2009 were in line with the Index's results.
"We are finding the traditional female market is being joined by young men and professional males. It is possible to have a much more complete view of clothing online now, so there is an increase in trust amongst shoppers. Online retailers who offer that sort of value to consumers will see this growth continue this year," he said.
Capgemini's research found one in five shoppers bought multiple sizes of an item of clothing, with the intention of sending the wrong sizes back.
It appears fears of unreliability of services has all but disappeared as a disincentive to purchasing goods online, with only 13 per cent of those queried stating it as a prime concern when shopping online.
Patrick Wall, MD of logistics company Metapack, told silicon.com his company has trebled delivery volumes in December, compared to October—an increase fuelled by the availability of deliveries right up to Christmas Eve.
"We also saw a lot of orders coming through on Christmas Day and volumes of deliveries before New Year's Day were high. As an industry, we've to manage customers' expectations better. At the same time, customers are more aware of when cut-off deadlines are. Getting an extra day's trading in can be crucial for some big retailers. It could mean the difference of 20,000 extra orders, meaning Â£1m of extra business for a large retailer on the last day of trading," he said.
Wall added he expects next Christmas to be even busier.
Provided by silicon.com—Driving Business Through Technology