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Big freeze saw shoppers switch high street purchasing online

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During the recent bad weather 27% of UK consumers purchased an item online that they had originally planned to buy in-store, according to a GfK NOP survey.

A further 39% simply deferred the purchase of non-essential items until the weather improved, but more than one in five shoppers who had planned to shop during early January — in most cases to take advantage of the seasonal sales — have now decided against making their purchases, resulting in lost revenues overall.

"The weather conditions during the first two weeks of 2010 have undoubtedly had a significant effect on the fortunes of the High Street during the crucial January sales period, and while we predict a possible late surge due to the amount of shoppers deferring purchases, it's clear that the Big Freeze has dampened the spirits of many who were planning to buy," says GfK NOP's Ivan Browne. "On the upside, the quarter of shoppers switching from the High Street to the internet is a sign of the times and great news for online retailers."

Amongst the hardy segment of the public who shopped as normal during the cold snap attitudes towards the January sales were mixed, with equal numbers expressing 'disappointment' and admitting to 'finding great bargains'.

Overall since Christmas, according to the research, 54% of the public have been 'sale shopping'; with clothes, homewares, small electrical items and entertainment products (music, games and video) all high on the list. A bargain-hunting 13% of the people have taken the opportunity to start shopping for Christmas 2010 and a savvy 9% say they held out until the sales to buy their Christmas 2009 gifts.

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