E-commerce booms in UK

Online shopping is proving more popular than ever - should you be looking forward to a stocking stuffed with underwear?

Over £1bn was spent by UK online shoppers last month, as Britain gets ready for its biggest ever e-Christmas.

According to figures released on Friday by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), a total of 14.3 million British shoppers spent some £1bn at e-commerce sites in November -- the most ever spent online in one month in the UK.

This is an increase of over 10 percent on October's figures -- and 95 percent up on a year ago. The IMRG also reported that online shopping is growing at three times as fast in the UK as in the US.

IMRG has identified extra convenience, choice, and time savings as key reasons for this growth in online commerce, as well as improved safety compared to shopping on the high street.

"Internet shopping is very safe for consumers, both because of protection built into the payments systems and because their return rights are better than in the high street," Owen Stewart, senior commercial manager at IMRG, told ZDNet UK.

"It's also much more convenient in many circumstances. You can do a grocery shop in half an hour instead of half a day, and it's great for Christmas gifts, because the retailer will wrap and deliver your presents for you," Stewart added.

Broadband is another key factor in the growth in online shopping.

"Broadband's rapid take-up is already having a profound impact on online shopping, setting exciting new expectations for consumers," said IMRG chief executive James Roper.

"Its fast connectivity enables consumers to nip to the stores online and enjoy a hassle-free, rich online shopping experience," added Roper. "No wonder that 17 percent of consumers polled recently said Internet shopping would be the primary way they bought Christmas presents this year. And with broadband being 'always on', people can pop to the shops online whenever they want without worrying about connection charges clocking up."

December is likely to be an even more successful month than November, with some experts predicting that the UK's online shopping bill for the month could total £1.7bn.

Lingerie and hosiery e-tailer Figleaves is confident of success. "Looks like a bumper Christmas with stockings full of beautiful underwear," said Daniel Nabarro, chairman of Figleaves, in a statement.

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