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The cost of shopping online increased 3.2 per cent in the six months to June - the eighth consecutive monthly price rise in a row.

However, while the figures compiled by the Goldfish e-Tail Price Index (ePI) might be bad news for consumers, analysts believe it's a sign that etailers are becoming more commercially viable and proof positive that this online channel is maturing.

Indeed, some commentators believe that the inflationary figures show that etailers are becoming more confident of their future and are raising prices to concentrate on customer service and fulfilment, as opposed to simply maintaining low prices to attract and retain customers.

The ePI shows that food prices online have shown the biggest increases over the last six months rising by a massive 7.5 per cent. The cost of alcohol increased 5.1 per cent over the same period.

The cost of motoring goods and services increased by 4 per cent since January.

Peter Barrett, MD of Goldfish said: "The consistent price hikes we are seeing online are mirroring those currently being experienced on the high street in key areas, including both the motoring and food sectors.

"E-tailers' success in sustaining the pricing strategies we have begun to see emerge over the past six months point to a commercially more viable and secure future for those trading online.

"However, they should bear in mind the occasionally wild fluctuations that some sectors have experienced, and not slip into the trap of believing it will all be plain sailing from now on," he said.

The Goldfish ePI (e-Tail Price Index) was set up last year to measure changes in the costs of consumer goods sold in the UK over the Net. ®

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