January 30, 2006, 12:00 AM

U.K. online holiday shopping grew 50% in 2005, trade group reports

Internet shoppers spent £4.98 billion online in the 10 weeks before Christmas, compared with £3.33 billion during the same period in 2004, U.K. trade group Interactive Media in Retail reports.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

In the 10 weeks before Christmas, online shopping in the U.K. grew 50% over the same period a year earlier, U.K. trade group Interactive Media in Retail reports. Internet shoppers spent £4.98 billion online during the period, compared with £3.33 billion during the same period in 2004, IMRG reported.

Online spending in November reached £2.253 billion, and in December, £2.264 billion.

Peak week was the week ending Dec.. 11 when sales reached £653 million. The weeks before and after that week each recorded £584 million in sales.

In 2005, UK consumers spent £19.2 billion on goods and services online, up 32% from 2004. 24 million British consumers shopped online in 2005, spending on average £816.

The trade group predicts that UK e-retail will grow 36% in 2006 to £26 billion.

"A surprising number of goods are still either hard to find or unavailable online. Large gaps exist in the supply market, such as high-end fashion and real estate,” said CEO James Roper. “Even leading retailers often only make a small proportion of their total inventory available online, and many don`t bother with spares at all. So huge growth potential remains for the merchants who plug these holes."

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