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Europe is expected to become the leading region for online sales in the run-up to Christmas, according to Gartner.

It reckons online sales will reach $15.77bn - up a massive 75 per cent on last year.

North America should perform almost as well, notching up around $15.66bn in online sales in Q4.

Together, Europe and North America will account for more than 80 per cent of all online sales in Q4.

In total, global online sales (excluding travel-related purchases, and movie and event ticket sales) are forecast to increase by almost 50 per cent from $25.74bn in Q4 to $38.2bn in the same period this year.

Said Michael Cruz, senior analyst for Gartner: "Retailers should be prepared for a fourth quarter online shopping onslaught, in spite of the global recession.

"Markets are still maturing, so specific attention is on flawless execution for return customers.

Retailers need to go where the market is: Europe is a huge online opportunity this year, be prepared to serve those markets like never before," he said. ®

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