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Bumper January online as UK consumers spend over £5bn

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    Seasonal discounts on furniture and electrical goods, and early bookings of annual holidays helped online retailers accrue £5.1bn sales for January this year, a massive 21% increase on last January. It confirms January 2011 as the best post-Christmas shopping period ever seen online. The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveal that shoppers in the UK spent £83 per head on average that month.

    There’s also evidence that shoppers spent most with multi-channel operators, suggesting that cross channel marketing is a winning favour with British shoppers.

    Another sector that recorded impressive growth was home and garden. After five months of annual decline, the sector made a significant year-on-year leap of 56%, with an average basket spend of £120.

    The Index paints a varied picture of the performance of online businesses, with multi-channel retailers making the most of their brand and physical presence to secure a greater share of spending. Year-on-year, multi-channel jumped a significant 30%, while online only grew just 8% compared with January 2010.

    Shoppers are spending on average £195 in January with multi-channel retailers, compared to just £92 with online only; equating to a year-on-year average basket value change of 2% for multi-channel and a staggering decline of -27% for online only.

    Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini said: “As expected we saw a strong growth in the Index following a very weak start last year, but the jump in the travel sector and the gap between multi-channel and pure plays has come as quite a surprise.”

    Michael Norton, managing director of said: “Our own data showed a 42% increase in the number of online transactions in January compared with this time last year and we also saw a significant increase in total consumer spend. We’re seeing a growing number of consumers turn to the convenience and better prices that only online retailers can offer.”

    Latest Hot Shops List

    Also published this week was the latest quarterly IMRG-Experian Hitwise Hot Shops List of the top 50 UK e-retailers, which monitors website traffic. It shows travel had a very strong quarter with the five fastest moving brands in the Hot Shops List all coming from the travel sector. Travel agencies Thomas Cook (up 27 places) and First Choice (up 21) saw the biggest gains of the quarter followed by Thomson (up 15 places), Travel Republic (up 15) and British Airways (up 12).

    Department stores generally had a solid quarter with John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser all improving on their position from last quarter. Only M&S dropped this quarter falling three places since November and two places since February 2010.

    Year-on-year the most improved performers were Sainsbury’s (up 19), IKEA (up 10) and House of Fraser ( up 19). Conversely all of the fashion brands dipped in the rankings, despite a very successful Christmas for some of the multi-channel fashion brands. Next, Topshop, New Look and River Island all went down in the Hot Shops list this quarter, although all of these brands have improved their position year-on-year.

    IMRG’s CEO, James Roper, commented: “The multi-channel retailers are continuing to power ahead in terms of traffic, which tallies up well with some of the results reported from the likes of John Lewis and House of Fraser in December. The entry of Best Buy into the UK market has increased the competitiveness of the electricals sector, and the need to respond with offers may have had some influence on Currys’ improved position. The economic conditions are tough, but early indications are that the year is getting off to a good start for online retailers.”

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