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Internet shopping grew 13% in February

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Valentine's Day gifts helped online to bounce back from a disappointing January, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, with shoppers spending 13% more in February compared to last year. An estimated £4.1 billion was spent online in the month, compared to £3.6 billion in 2009.

Online sales declined 4% from January, although the researchers say this is simply "indicative of a seasonal fall following Christmas and competitive New Year promotions."

Valentine's Day was given an added spark this year, as traditional gifts were traded in for more intimate purchases of underwear and perfume, say IMRG/Capgemini. The gifts sector (which includes items such as flowers and hampers) was down by a third (31%) in the week prior to Valentine's Day, in sharp contrast to sales of lingerie and beauty products, which showed strong annual growth of 30% and 25% respectively.

Multichannel retailers' online sales continued to grow against online-only retailers', with shoppers remaining loyal to high street shops with an online offering. Multichannel sales were up 24% year on year, whereas online-only sales increased by just 4%. Multichannel retailers are also managing to grow the amount of visits to their sites that are converted into actual purchases. In February 2009, multichannel retailers average conversion rate was up by 11%, while there was no growth in the conversion of online-only retailers on a like-for-like basis.

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