Snow dampens online growth in December

Heavy snowfall may have dampened online...

Heavy snowfall may have dampened online Christmas sales, as etailers risked breaking consumer trust over missed delivery dates, according to analysts.

Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG, said the huge rise in shopping combined with one of the heaviest snowfalls in recent years has proved challenging for many online retailers. "It will be interesting to see how this will affect consumer confidence and whether it will result in a weaker than expected December," she said.

Matt Piner, senior retail analyst at retail research firm Verdict, agreed. "Overall, the snow has probably had a negative impact. There may have been a small boost to online sales to begin with as consumers were unable to get out, but that gave way to more cautiousness about retailer's ability to deliver goods - especially as some stopped guaranteeing Christmas delivery dates. It may have even undermined confidence for next year."

However, last month saw a surge in online sales, as consumers clambered online to do Christmas shopping. The etail 'gift' market grew by 123% in November, the largest month-on-month increase since November 2006, according to IMRG figures.

Overall, online sales reached £6.4bn in November, up 23% on October and by 21% on November 2009.

Despite online sales growth being hampered by weather conditions in December, e-commerce will continue growing next year, said Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini.

"November has been a very significant month in terms of online retail. Of course the surge in sales can be attributed to the season, but it is indicative of the ongoing trend of consumers migrating online. 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," he said.

See also: Online sales set to slow.

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