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News - 3 April 2008

Armchair shopping has taken off in the UK

Britain is way out in the lead when it comes to online shopping in Europe. According to the latest figures from Mintel the UK is £5 billion online sales ahead of the next country on the ladder.

The study shows that the UK topped E18.5 billion online sales last year whereas Germany reached E13 billion, France E7 billion while Italy and Spain languish further down the list with E1.1 billion and E1 billion respectively.

Mintel suggests that the UK growth (75% in the last two years) has been largely due to an increase in food buying online and the fact that many Brits are happy to do their weekly grocery shop from the comfort of their easy chair.

Europeans (particularly in the Latin countries) shop for food with a very different attitude to the Brits. For them the ability to touch, feel and smell is so much more important. And the fact that their fresh produce isn't cloned to perfection as it is in the UK adds to this experience.

However, back in the UK while Brits are happy to buy their food online they may be having reservations about buying clothes that way. The fact that Tesco has recently withdrawn clothing from its online offer could be a hint that this is indeed the case.

Compared with food sales clothing may be proving less lucrative for the company. Tesco has run an online clothing trial and is now deliberating over the results and the continuation of the service.

UK online sales are predicted to increase by nearly 200% over the next four years to hit E56 billion by 2012. High street retailers who don't already sell online need to be very wary.

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