Online trade hits £18.4bn

Online trade in the UK, excluding the financial services sector, was worth £18.4bn in 2001, representing 1% of the year's total...

Online trade in the UK, excluding the financial services sector, was worth £18.4bn in 2001, representing 1% of the year's total sales, according to government research.

A survey by the Office of National Statistics of 12,000 UK businesses of all sizes, showed a 42% increase in online sales from 2000. It found that online sales to households increased by 53% from £4bn to £6.1bn, while online sales to businesses rose by 36% from £8bn to £10.9bn.

According to the survey, 81% of orders came from inside the UK, 12% came from other European Union countries, and the remaining 7% were from outside the EU. Physical products accounted for 62% of online sales, 35% of sales were for services, and 3% for digitised products.

Online purchasing by firms in non-financial sectors also showed a steep rise, the survey found, increasing by 25% from £15.6bn in 2000 to £19.5bn in 2001.

The Office of National Statistics said financial services firms were not included in the survey because the methodology used for estimating trade in the sector is still under review.

Resilience issues continue to blight the Web site of online bank Intelligent Finance (IF), which recently suffered three days of unplanned downtime after a coding error made the site unusable under heavy traffic.

The site struggled to cope again on Monday as volumes of traffic increased following the weekend. The site became logjammed for 40 minutes during the lunchtime period, and some users also complained that they could not get onto the site earlier in the morning.

"It is nothing we are concerned about," said an IF spokesman. Monday's problems were down to the high volumes of traffic on the site and were just "something that can happen occasionally", he added.

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