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Frugal Shoppers Battle To Beat The Vat Rise

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Online retail experts at say a growth in usage of voucher codes show internet shoppers are searching harder for bargains in the aftermath of the VAT rise.

Traffic flow on the shopping portal shows frugal shoppers are making the most of savings, having spent on big ticket items prior to the increase in VAT on January 4, 2011. is one of the UK’s leading online shopping portals, featuring more than 4,000 selected retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Nike and Next.

Other trends highlighted by the site’s visitors included home improvement products proving popular, while luxury goods such as fashion dropping off, as has traffic to retailers whose physical goods are now available as downloads, such as books, music and even greetings cards.

Graham Miller, director at, said: "The first few days of January showed a real peak in activity at, with the sales value double the same period in December, so there is a real indication that people went for the big buys in those final days before the VAT rise. The average order value went from £55 to £110.

"December itself had been a month of growth in online shopping, both month on month and also in relation to December 2009, and this is reflected in figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

"However, the really interesting indication from our own traffic flow has been the increase in visitors using our voucher codes. There is clearly an increasingly frugal mindset among online shoppers, looking for a bargain and spending on things that they need, rather than those which are luxuries.

"It will be very interesting to see if this is a sustained frame of mind, or a shorter-term trend, as there is still uncertainty about what the VAT rise will mean to the economy, inflation and interest rates over the coming months."