Online shoppers in the U.K. increase spending by 22% in November

But a trade group sounds a warning about Christmas deliveries.

Thad Rueter

Online shoppers in the United Kingdom spent 6.4 billion pounds (US$9.9 billion) in November, up 21.5% from the same month in 2009 and 23.4% from October 2010, according to figures released today by Interactive Media in Retail Group and Capgemini, a consulting firm.

The online retail trade group says the sour economy continues to lead consumers away from bricks-and-mortar stores and toward bargains from Internet merchants. The group, commonly known as IMRG, also said that a looming increase in the U.K’s value added tax—a levy that resembles a national sales tax—has persuaded consumers to buy big-ticket products before the new year.

“Of course the surge in sales can be attributed to the season, but it is indicative of the ongoing trend of consumers migrating online,” says Chris Webster, Capgemini’s head of retail consulting and technology. “This is a trend which is only set to continue particularly as consumers use the power of the web to make their ever-diminishing disposable income go further.”

Spending on clothes, shoes and accessories was especially robust last month in the United Kingdom, increasing 30% year over year; the report credits some of the increase to consumers buying winter clothes near the end of the month, when temperatures dropped. Spending on health and beauty products increased 27% year over year.

The reports of November spending increases came as the United Kingdom, along with other parts of Europe, were socked with snowstorms that hampered travel and deliveries.

“It is very disappointing that some online purchases intended as Christmas presents may not arrive in time due to bad weather making delivery impossible,” says James Roper, the CEO of Interactive Media in Retail Group. “However, December 2010 remains on track to be the biggest online shopping month ever in the U.K.”


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