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UK firms see internet business soar

Today expected to be busiest online shopping day

Man at computer

UK firms sold £130.4 billion worth of goods and services over the internet during 2006 – a 29% year-on-year increase, latest figures show.

The surge reflects the increasing value of internet trade in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It follows growth in the use of information communication technologies such as computers, the internet and broadband by UK businesses.

The ONS survey of 8,000 UK firms found 6.5% of sales by non-financial sector businesses were carried out online during 2006.

Just over half (52%) of the firms polled used the internet to interact with Government departments, local councils and other public bodies.


Nearly all (99%) of businesses with 1,000 staff or more had broadband.

That figure was lower for those with 10 to 49 employees at 70.3%.

The ONS e-commerce survey focused on around 8,000 UK firms with 10 or more employees.

It comes as retailers are braced for record online trade this festive season.

Shopping sites

Auction site eBay.co.uk and price comparison site Shopping.com say today will be the busiest online shopping day this Christmas.

EBay expects to receive 35 million item searches and 2.65 million bids – double its standard daily average.

A statement for the website said: ‘December 2 is due to be the busiest day for online shopping this Christmas as well as the busiest online shopping day of all time…’

Apacs, the UK payments association, has predicted shoppers will spend more than £5 billion online this December.

Online security

Financial services firm Deloitte said online security was one cause of concern about buying online.

Mike Maddison, head of Deloitte’s UK security and privacy practice, said: ‘Consumers are telling us that they are more concerned about security this year than previously. It appears that many people still want more assurance that they can trust the websites they are purchasing from.’

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and market researchers Nielsen estimate just over half of consumers will do some of their Christmas shopping online.

Shoppers will spend an average £70 each over the internet compared with an average in-store spend of £365.

More people now use the internet to compare prices, with 63% checking deals online before buying, the BRC says.

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