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August sales beat forecasts as shoppers splash out £3.8bn online

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UK shoppers spent £3.8 billion online in August 2009, which is 16% higher than in August 2008, new figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveal. Month on month sales fell by 10% in August, "closely in line with seasonal trends seen in previous years".

The Index shows that nearly all sectors have seen a dip in month-on-month growth, with only the footwear, gifts and electrical sectors showing a small monthly rise in spending. Sales of shoes online rose by 3%, which the researchers suggest is down to families refreshing school uniforms for the new year.

The beers, wines & spirits and lingerie sectors have seen decreasing growth throughout 2009, with alcohol sales showing negative year-on-year growth in five out of the last six months. The lingerie sector has also continued to see negative growth each month — a sign that consumers are cutting back on luxury items as the recession bites.

The clothing sector, while experiencing a dip in sales against July, has continued to perform well throughout the year. Fashion retailers are ahead of the game in terms of performance, say the researchers, and improvements to the online customer experience, combined with competitive pricing and better returns policies, have increased the number of visits to the sites that are being converted into sales. All of this has contributed to higher than average year on year growth rates for this sector.

"The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveal a 16% year on year growth for online spending, ahead of our 12% forecasts for the second half of the year," says Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail for Capgemini UK. "The key drivers of this growth are clothing, accessories and electricals. Consumers continue to see the benefits of greater choice, price competitiveness and convenience from buying online in these sectors.

"It is no coincidence that in these sectors retailers are making the greatest strides to improve their online offer, with improved visuals, enhanced product information, more convenient delivery and return models and an increasing use of web 2.0 techniques."

And IMRG's Tina Spooner adds "The continued annual growth in the online retail market is evidence that this medium is withstanding the challenges of the economic downturn and the retailers that continue to expand and improve their online presence will no doubt reap the benefits during the festive trading period."

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