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Online spending hits £4.2bn record high in February

Online spending in February reached a record high of more than £4.2bn, equivalent to £69 per person in the UK, according to figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The results showed an overall year-on-year increase of 46%, but sector growth was patchy. Alcohol saw a huge surge in online sales in February, perhaps in anticipation of the tax hit in last week's Budget.

In contrast, the previously burgeoning electrical sector saw a drop in growth of 12.5%, compared with January's online spending. The clothing, footwear and accessories sector also saw slower growth in February (3.2%) after the surge in January sales, and fewer health and beauty products were purchased online.

Anthoula Madden, vice president at Capgemini UK's consumer products and retail team, said any slowdown due to the credit crunch was not showing up in online sales figures. "However, the global recession fear is a good reminder that e-retailers cannot be complacent and need to be even more creative to keep existing customers and attract new users," she said.

Jo Evans, managing director at e-tailing industry body IMRG, said, "Price-conscious shoppers are using the internet to both research and buy to make their money stretch as far as possible, and online retailers are working harder than ever to give great customer experience."

She said lots of firms had upgraded their websites since Christmas. "The best sites are empowering shoppers with vast amounts of detailed information they are hosting customer reviews and providing tools to co-ordinate associated products - doing everything they can to enable customers to be entirely comfortable in their shopping choices."

Sector monthly change in IMRG Capgemini online sales index

Beers, wines and sprits +38%

Clothing, footwear and accessories +3.2%

Electricals -12.46%

Health and beauty -7.9%





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