October 18, 2011, 11:43 AM

U.K. online sales jump 15% in September

That’s a stark contrast to bricks-and-mortar sales, which increased 0.3%.

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Online retail sales in the United Kingdom increased 15% in September compared with the same month a year ago, according to Interactive Media in Retail Group, an e-retail trade group, and consulting firm Capgemini. That’s a sharp contrast to bricks-and-mortar stores, which posted a sales increase of 0.3% year over year, according to the latest report from the trade group the British Retail Consortium.

The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index says British shoppers spent 5.5 billion pounds ($8.64 billion) online in September. When excluding online travel sales, IMRG says e-retail sales growth in September increased 20% year over year.

Among the categories fueling the growth were home and garden supplies, which increased 40% from a year ago; clothing, which jumped 21%; and liquor sales, which increased 16%.

More expensive categories had slower growth, according to the report. For instance, electronics increased 9% from a year ago.

“Rather than cutting back entirely we have been more conscientious in our purchases,” says Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini. “Faced with uncertainty shoppers are prepared to cut back on luxuries but not from shopping altogether.”

Because of those trends IMRG and Capgemini suggest that the rate of growth is slowing down compared to a year ago when online sales jumped 18% year over year. The groups expect this year’s annual growth rate to be 16%, with a 12% to 14% increase in the fourth quarter.

A separate report this week, “The HSBC Christmas Spending Survey,” says that 13% of U.K. consumers will buy all their holiday presents in the fourth quarter. The exact same percentage will shop only in bricks-and-mortar stores. The report, which was commissioned by the bank HSBC, is based on a survey of 2,001 consumers in September.

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