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Shops report major web sales growth

Miya Knights

Retailers will have to invest heavily in their e-commerce infrastructure in the year ahead, after Christmas trading figures showed a huge increase in visitors to retail websites.

High street retailers experienced the biggest online growth compared with 2005, according to intelligence service Hitwise. Web hits were up by 107% at Waitrose, 50% at HMV, and 25% at Marks & Spencer.

In some cases, the rise in visitors equated to even bigger sales increases. For example, M&S's trading figures were up 5.6% overall, but its online earnings leapt by 70%.

Andy Morris, managing consultant at Egremont Group, said web channels were becoming key drivers of growth. "The internet can be a key strategic platform. It is telling that the internet was M&S's largest 'store' in the run-up to Christmas, with nine million customers," he said.

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