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Britain's local businesses are missing out on a share of £1.5bn by failing to sell their products online, a new study reveals.

A survey of shoppers by online search directory Touch Local shows over two thirds would like to buy products from their local shops but convenience is still their top predilection.

Overwhelmingly, shoppers prefer to buy online, and with an estimated £1.5bn to be generated by online sales this year, too many firms are failing to claim their share, Touch Local claims.

Its poll uncovered strong sentiment toward buying local. Nearly half of shoppers favour their local shops over superstores, but research shows only 31 per cent of local shops are trading online. Of these, only six per cent have websites with payment facilities.

With 69 per cent of UK local businesses still not trading online, customers have no choice but to buy from chain stores, Touch Local says.

“The people of Britain clearly want to shop locally - and we are all for helping boost local economy and supporting local traders - but we are pushed for time,” said Tony Piedade, commercial director for Touch Local.

He said most firms shun online retail because of fears about the cost of building and maintaining a website, a lack of marketing funds and the red tape involved in acquiring an internet merchant account number to trade via the internet.

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