Online spending defies downturn

Online spending in July reached a total market value of over 4.8 billion, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

Despite the global economic turmoil that has seen fuel and food prices soar, IMRG and Capgemini bizarrely cited wet weather as a major contributor to sales rising 11.3 per cent.

"Gloomy market conditions have not dampened consumers' appetite for shopping online. Online sales continue to show strong growth, particularly when compared to the tough trading conditions on the high street," said Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail at Capgemini UK.

The report found that Britons spent the equivalent of 79 for every person in the UK during July.

Online sales compared favourably to the British Retail Consortium's general retail figures, which showed that sales this July were 0.9 per cent lower than a year ago.

The electrical sector experienced its highest growth in 2008, which the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index attributes to the demand for the new Apple iPhone 3G and flat screen televisions ahead of the Olympics.

Other consumer products and goods benefiting from online shopping sprees included holidays, clothes, footwear and accessories. These grew by a combined 22.8 per cent in July.

MD of IMRG Jo Evans said the results showed that online retailers were benefiting from bargain-savvy consumers.

"This month's Index results show that there is still confidence in purchasing products and services online despite the current economic conditions.

"Online retailers are taking full advantage of the present situation by making exceptional offers on their websites, with online sales now in full swing and UK shoppers using the web to search out those bargains, compare prices and ensure they get the best deals."

However, the report also found that the online gift sales sector experienced a decline of half a per cent from last year's figures.