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UK and Ireland has bumper e-Xmas

Sales up 40 per cent

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Etailers in the UK and Ireland had a bumper Christmas notching up increased sales of 40 per cent on the year before.

That's according to research from e-outfit Shopcreator, whose study of more than 200 regularly-monitored UK and Irish etailers showed that Christmas 2003 saw "significant growth" in online sales.

Although it didn't come up with a total figure, Shopcreator found that average orders rose from £17.51 to £40.55 as shoppers used their plastic online instead of traipsing around the shops.

Indeed, sales in the run-up to Christmas "continued fiercely" to December 12, when order rates fell. The tail-off was expected since punters get a bit edgy as to whether their gifts will be delivered in time for the big day.

Said Shopcreator chief exec Andy Kitchener: "These figures confirm what we've seen throughout 2003 - that e-business has finally shaken off the stigma of the dotcom boom/bust and is now all about real companies using the Internet to transact real business with real customers."

He added that Christmas 2003 proved to be an "extension of the strong e-business growth that we’ve seen throughout the rest of the year".

Elsewhere, Web watchers Hitwise report that following a record month for etailers in December, the UK's Net users have now shifted their focus away from shopping to holidays instead,

In the post-Christmas period. Hitwise's data reveals that while traffic to online retailers has fallen, interest in online travel agencies has taken off.

The stats show that visits to shopping sites decreased significantly from the week ending December 6 as users finished their online Christmas shopping.

In contrast, the travel sector has seen a significant increase in traffic despite recent concerns over the impact of terrorist threats. ®

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