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E-commerce rises by a fifth in January 2011

22 February 2011 - 10:57 by Mike Price

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Online retailers did well in January as the latest figures suggest that sales were up by 21 per cent last month. This equates to a spend of roughly £83 per person, according to statistics published by IMRG Capgemini.

Compared to the same period in 2010, the increase was an impressive 31 per cent, fuelled in part by the traditional January sales, but also by the VAT rise, which came into force early in the month.

Those using safe shopping online to book holidays were feeling flush as the average cost of trips away booked last month rose to £886, a level which has not been seen for over two years.

People began to spend a lot more on products for their homes and garden as this segment of the e-commerce market saw the biggest rise, up by 51 per cent compared with last year. This brought average baskets up to £120 for this type of site.

IMRG spokesperson, Tina Spooner, pointed out that while the year on year figures look positive it should be noted that January 2010 was a record lull for growth in the e-commerce market.

Retailers who managed to make the most of early 2011 were those who offer both safe shopping online and high street outlets, although IMRG said that e-commerce firms who only operate on the internet were still growing, if a little less quickly.

Experts believe that the snowy weather which brought the UK to a standstill in November and December was partly responsible for people booking up holidays to sunnier climes at the start of the year.

There is uncertainty as to whether February's figures will be as positive, particularly since current reports suggest another Icelandic volcano could be about to blow its top, raising the issue of travel disruption as a result of another ash cloud.