March 17, 2011, 4:42 PM

Shoppers in the U.K. increase online spending by 20% in February

Alcohol and clothing e-retailers experienced the largest growth.

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Online shoppers in the United Kingdom spent 4.9 billion British pounds ($7.9 billion) in February, a 20% increase over the same month last year  but a 5% drop from January, according to consulting firm Capgemini and Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), a web retailing industry association.

The e-commerce growth in February beat estimates and contrasted with weak sales at bricks-and-mortar stores, says Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG. “U.K. shoppers spent a staggering 10 billion British pounds [$22.6 billion] online during January and February, a clear indicator of how strong consumer confidence is in the online channel even during a period in which high street spending is down,” she says.

The alcohol sector experienced the largest growth in February, as online sales jumped 25% year over year and 37% from January, through the report gave no spending amounts. IMRG and Capgemini attributed the increase to shoppers preparing for an expected increase in alcohol taxes.

Online apparel sales also increased in February, up 34% from the same month last year and 6% compared with January.

The 82 U.K. retailers in the Top 300 Europe accounted for 16.55 billion euros (US$23.04 billion) in web sales in 2010, according to Internet Retailer’s newly published research guide.

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