Online retail sales head for £40bn this year

Online retail sales are set to hit £40bn in the UK this year – and will more than quadruple to £162bn by 2020, price comparison specialist uSwitch.com has predicted.

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Online retail sales are set to hit £40bn in the UK this year – and will more than quadruple to £162bn by 2020, price comparison specialist uSwitch.com has predicted.

In 2002, online sales accounted for just 2% of total spending, but this figure will reach 16% by the end of 2007 and more than 40% by 2020, uSwitch said.

Retail is the big growth area for UK internet users, uSwitch research found, with broadband users spending more time shopping online than banking, gaming or downloading music. A total of 13.5 million UK consumers are now shopping online, spending an average aggregate time of four days doing so.

Online retail transactions reached a high of £4.2bn in July this year, up from £2.34bn in the same period last year.

Steve Weller, head of communications services at uSwitch.com, said: “Over the last five years broadband prices have halved while speeds have gone up, making it cheaper and simpler for consumers to log on instead of going out to the shops. Online security has vastly improved so our peace of mind is greater than ever before.”

The price comparison firm predicted a record-breaking online Christmas period, with 27 million shoppers set to spend £14bn online – figures uSwitch said made Britain “the web-commerce capital of Europe”.

Companies such as Woolworths have overhauled their supply chain systems to boost their online sales outlets in time for the seasonal spending rush.

The uSwitch research found that the average UK household spends £980 a year on online goods and services, representing 10% of its £9,630 total annual shopping bill. The most popular products – bought online by over half of adult internet users – are holidays, music and films.

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