UK consumers are being encouraged to get their credit cards out and get online, to mark National Internet Shopping Day. The aim is to persuade shoppers to embrace the Web, with a raft of promotions and special offers.
The event is organised by e-tail body IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), and will be supported by high street staples such as Boots, Virgin and Debenhams and the charms of the event's frontwoman, Melinda Messenger.
The UK Internet spending market is currently worth the princely sum of around £1bn per month, with 12 million shoppers already using the Internet.
But 38 percent of Web users still haven't warmed to cybershopping.
James Roper, chief executive of IMRG, thinks they simply haven't bit the bullet yet. He said: "Internet shopping is like literacy -- there was a time when most people couldn't read -- now we all do. This is progress -- get a handle on it."
IMRG is also keen to redress the widespread fears of credit card fraud, which it believes are still holding back ecommerce.
In a statement, the group said: "Don't miss out on Internet shopping because of the old media hype about it not being safe. It's plain wrong. Shopping online is at least as safe as shopping in the high street."
Paul Simms, director of retail security consultancy the 3rd Man, fears that Internet Shopping Day might turn out to be Internet Shoplifting Day.
He believes while consumers may be the victims of people defrauding their cards with Internet purchases, chances are the Web wasn't to blame initially.
"Consumers card details are often compromised elsewhere -- fraudsters go through bins, pick up old receipts", he said, adding that while consumers will be reimbursed for the cost of any fraudulent card purchases, retailers aren't so lucky: "Retailers still have to pay card companies for the goods. We've heard of one company that went out of business because of this type of fraud."
The IMRG is also keen to point out that Internet Shopping Day is all about sex. And they don't mean Ms Messenger.
Currently, the gender divide with online spending is roughly equal, but with around 8,000 women switching on to online shopping every day, IMRG projects that distribution in the future is more likely to be weighted 70/30 in favour of female surfers.
It seems while men's enthusiasm for the world of online purchasing is chiefly down to getting items quickly and avoiding the high street, women see shopping over the Web as an additional channel to sate their spending impulses.
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