January 17, 2007, 12:00 AM

U.K. retailers ring up the online cash registers with record sales

British consumers spent £7.66 billion online between Oct. 16 and Dec. 24, 53.8% more than during the same period in 2005 and more than double the £3.33 billion during the 2004 holidays, according to a British trade group.

 

British consumers spent £7.66 billion online between Oct. 16 and Dec. 24, 53.8% more than the ££4.98 billion they spent online during the same period in 2005 and more than double the £3.33 billion during the 2004 holidays, according to British trade association The Interactive Media in Retail Group.

Sales reached nearly £1 billion a week during each of the first three weeks in December. Consumers placed 200 million orders in the 10 weeks leading up to Christmas.

For the year, British consumers spent £30.2 billion online, the group reports.

"Web sites struggled to cope with the soaring traffic levels, stocks sold out early, and delivery companies were at full stretch dispatching the 200 million parcels ordered,” says Jo Tucker, the trade group’s managing director. “Sales demand outstripped supply capacity by a significant margin, otherwise sales would have been higher still."

Littlewoods Shop Direct Group had holiday sales of $102 million, up 22% over the year-earlier period. “Last year in total the business took a quarter of all sales online, this year a third of all sales were made online,” says Neal Preece, group e-commerce director. “The post Christmas sale has gone to plan, with less sale stock because of a good Christmas."

Interestingly, peak traffic to U.K. web sites came two days after Christmas, the trade group reports, with traffic on Dec. 27 30% higher than on the second busiest day, Dec. 11. Further, as in the U.S., online shopping is shifting into the home as more consumers access the Internet via a broadband connection at home. “The evening peak - between 7 and 9pm - is now 80% as high as lunchtime`s, when the highest sales are still recorded, between 1 and 2p.m.," says Chris Russell, director of eDigitalResearch.com, a research agency that the Interactive Media in Retail Group is working with to understand online traffic patterns.

 

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