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Consumers vote up online retailers in annual retail popularity index

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The recession has significantly boosted the popularity of online retailers — at the expense of some of Britain’s biggest high street brands, TNS Worldpanel has reported. And, as stalwarts including Morrisons, B&Q, Ikea and TopShop slip down the popularity rankings, online retailers have shown their best performance yet in the retail industry’s annual ‘favourite retailer’ league.

While Tesco is still rated the UK’s favourite retailer by 14% of Brits, it is losing ground to Amazon, which now comes in a close second at 12%. Ebay and have also outperformed their high street counterparts, beating pre-credit crunch favourites such as Primark, New Look and Waitrose to claim a place in the top 15. The results, the researchers say, illustrate how the recession has changed the retail landscape, making it almost unrecognisable compared to just a year ago.

The top ten retailers, with their 2007 scores in brackets, are:

  1. Tesco (1)

  2. Amazon (5)

  3. Asda (2)

  4. Marks and Spencer (3)

  5. John Lewis (4)

  6. Argos (8)

  7. Sainsbury’s (7)

  8. Debenhams (9)

  9. Morrisons (7)

  10. Ebay (15)

TNS Worldpanel found that online retailers have grown particularly popular among male consumers, with almost a quarter (22%) of men under the age of 35 selecting Amazon as their favourite place to shop. For men, Tesco comes in at number two, with just 11% of the votes. The picture is the reverse for women, however, who still prefer Tesco and Asda over their online rivals.

Online retailing is particularly strong in the entertainment sector, where the channel now accounts for 26% of sales. Ebay and Amazon are also highly popular vendors for home electronics, with the former recording the highest growth in popularity in this category, jumping 10 places in just two years. When it comes to grocery and clothing retailers, however, consumers prefer to stick to tried and tested high street favourites, and even popular online-only brands such as Asos don’t feature in the top ten list.

Elaine Giles, client manager at TNS Worldpanel Fashion, says: “The speed at which the popularity of online retailers is rising is surprising, especially in light of the heavy discounting we’ve seen on the high street in recent months. But it does spell good news for old high street favourites such as Woolworths and Zavvi, both of whom have recently gone into administration but are planning to re-launch as online brands. With Ebay and both making huge leaps this year, there is clearly an appetite for online specialists. Perhaps enhancing their online offer is the answer for high street brands struggling through the recession?”

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