UK Internet boom: One pound in six spent online

The amount of money spent on Internet shopping last year was up 54 percent from 2006, with online sales reaching £15.2 billion (US$30 billion) in the final quarter.

The amount of money spent in the United Kingdom on Internet shopping last year was more than 50 percent higher than the year before, the U.K. e-commerce industry body IMRG has announced.

According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, released on Thursday, the run-up to Christmas 2007 was an "all time high" for online shopping in the United Kingdom, with £15.2 billion (US$30 billion) spent online from October to December. The overall figure for 2007 was £46.6 billion (US$91.7 billion), up 54 percent on the £30.2 billion (US$59.4 billion) spent online in 2006.

According to Anthoula Madden, Capgemini's vice president for U.K. consumer products and retail, the figure prove that online growth continues to be "robust and sustainable" in the United Kingdom.

"Whilst we are yet to see high streets sales decline there can be no doubt online is growing its share at the expense of bricks and mortar retailers and we believe that this trend will continue," said Madden.

IMRG's chief executive, James Roper, said on Thursday that consumer behavior had "changed dramatically over the last few years". If retailers, "intend to be part of the future retail scene, they need to develop a robust online presence, and that is getting harder as the sophistication of the channel increases and customers expectations rise".

A spokesperson for IMRG told ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK that the spread of home connectivity across the United Kingdom had been a major factor in the growth of online shopping. "One of the things that we are seeing is that the Internet, and particularly retail, is now maturing," said the spokesperson. "We have an increasing number of people with a broadband connection at home--that obviously then fuels confidence to purchase online because the consumer is able to navigate across a number of sites and look for the best prices."