An interesting article today on the BBC.

In the 10 weeks leading up to Christmas, shoppers spent almost £5bn – a rise of almost 50% year on year – according to e-commerce trade body IMRG.

2005 as a whole proves an ever increasing trend for shoppers to turn to the internet when shopping. Representing a rise of 32% against 2004, it is estimated that e-commerce spending in the UK totalled £19.2bn in 2005. Overall, 24million UK consumers shopped online, spending on average £816 during the year (£208 in the weeks leading up to Christmas).

IMRG managing director Jo Tucker said the 50% growth in online sales represented a “step change in retailing at Christmas”. “There can no longer be any doubt that the internet is a major part of the retail landscape, and that it will dominate the retail agenda for the next several years,” said Ms Tucker.

This boom in online shopping was not mirrored on the high street, where retailers are reporting a mixed experience over the Christamas period. Several companies, including M&S and Tesco, enjoyed excellent sales but several large retailers, including Next, Body Shop and HMV have reported a difficult Christmas, with many retailers complaining about the impact of online sales on their business.

Of the retailers that have embraced the internet, many have experienced superb results. Tesco reported over 1 million online customers during November and December, while department store John Lewis recorded online and catalogue sales of more than £100m in 2005.

IMRG now forecasts that e-commerce will grow by 36% in 2006, with sales worth £26bn.