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Festive shoppers have already been busy flashing their cash online, according to accountants KPMG.

Its survey of Christmas spending habits found that each of us will fork out on average £333 on pressies this year. And it seems we've already been out and about spending around £104 of our budget so far.

And the beancounters discovered that some four in ten shoppers have already used the Net to order or buy some of their presents.

"We can surmise from this that it is the early shopping trips that are being replaced not only by online searching this year, but by early online buying," said the research.

"Perhaps this is in wake of the memory of scares of late delivery last year. Very interestingly, it is 30-50 year olds that have been most active in early on-line shopping, not the younger generation."

Predictably, sales of electrical gear is set to lead online sales although fashion items are reportedly already experiencing strong growth.

Etailing trade group IMRG predicts that online sales in the eight weeks to Christmas are set to jump 40 per cent to £5bn from £3.5bn this year. ®

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