In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
Online sales of booze and apparel help to boost the e-commerce growth figures.
Online retail sales in the U.K. increased 19% in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period a year ago, according the Interactive Media in Retail Group, an e-retail trade group, and consulting firm Capgemini. The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index says U.K. shoppers spent 31.5 billion pounds ($51.4 billion) online this year through June.
IMRG attributes the growth to several factors, including consumers going online to find money-saving deals, and unusually hot and rainy weather that kept shoppers out of retail stores. It also says consumers celebrating the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April prompted strong online sales of alcohol.
“Many were predicting a tough year for retail in 2011 and in the high street that has proved to be the case, but the online market has actually grown,” says David Smith, chief marketing and communications officer with IMRG. (High street is a generic term for bricks-and-mortar retailing and stores in the center of British towns.)
Online sales in June totaled 5.3 billion pounds ($8.6 billion), up 21% from June 2010. IMRG says this equates to an average online spend of 86 pounds ($140) per person during the month. June online sales of alcohol were up 10% from a year ago, and clothing, footwear and accessories were up 31%.
“A 21% year-on-year increase in June is a perfect way to round off the first half of 2011, as it is consistent with what has been to date a very strong year,” says Chris Webster, head of retail consulting at Capgemini.