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UK online sales top Germany

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The UK is Europe's biggest market for online retail - beating Germany into second place for the first time.

Total online spending in the UK is £6.69bn (€9.79bn) compared to £6.63bn (€9.71bn) in Germany. Increasing use of broadband was credited with helping the increase in the UK.

Internet sales grew by 51 per cent compared to last year to a total of £27.48bn (€40.2bn). The largest three markets - France, Germany and the UK - account for two-thirds of that total. Growth will be helped by "big book" - mail order firms - increasingly moving business online.

Online retail sales make up just two per cent of the total retail market in Europe - but this is expected to rise to five per cent by 2010.

France comes in third place with sales of £4.44bn (€6.5bn) in 2005. But researchers predict that ecommerce in France will grow fastest in the next few years - it blames Minitel and "the French love affair with going out regularly to physical shops for fresh produce or for their clothes."

Researchers from Mintel are predicting France will overtake Germany by 2010 when the total market will be worth £78.61bn (€115bn).

Italy and Spain bring up the rear of the top five with total markets of €13.24bn and €10.88bn respectively.

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