January 20, 2009, 12:00 AM

Despite tough times, shoppers in the U.K. spent more this holiday season

Holiday shoppers throughout the U.K. spent £4.67 billion ($6.5 billion) online, up from £4.07 billion ($5.69 billion) during Christmas 2007, says consultants IMRG Capgemini.

While their banking system is getting a second bailout, online shoppers in the United Kingdom set aside recession worries and spent freely over the holidays, says a new report from consultants IMRG Capgemini.

Over the holidays, shoppers throughout the U.K. spent £4.67 billion online, up from £4.07 billion during Christmas 2007, Capgemini says. In U.S. currency, that’s an increase year over year of about 14% to $6.50 billion from $5.69 billion.

“Our research provides further evidence that consumers are turning to the Internet as the most efficient way to save money in the downturn,” says Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail at Capgemini U.K. “It is also clear that retailers are seizing the potential of the Internet to reach shoppers with targeted discounts and promotions.”

Consumers in the United Kingdom spent 13% more buying alcohol online in December compared to November, the report says. Gifts and consumer electronics also saw a marked increase in sales for December with shoppers spending 7% and 5% more, respectively, in December over the previous month.

Although clothing, footwear and accessories sales were flat from November 2007 to November 2008, shoppers spent 32% more year over year in December, according to Capgemini. In contrast, the lingerie, health and beauty sectors saw a decline in sales both from month to month and year to year, the report says.

“The traditional retail model in which stock is held in an outlet for collection by the consumer is giving way to a hybrid model that emphasizes the store’s role as a display area and leisure destination, and the value of both these aspects diminish in a recession,” says IMRG Capgemini CEO James Roper. “Brands that are nimble in a cross-channel environment give their customers a more efficient, easy-to-use service and are rewarded with increased conversion rates and larger average shopping baskets.”

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