Consumers spending over £150m a day online in run-up to Christmas

LONDON - More than half of British consumers are choosing to abandon long queues and busy crowds in favour of buying their Christmas presents online.

According to research by business management consultancy Deloitte, consumers will be spending over £150m a day in the run up to Christmas.

Over the last few years, the numbers of people choosing to buy online has gone from just 2% in 1998 and 32% in 2004, to 51% in 2005, revealing a dramatic shift in attitudes to buying online.

The shift in consumer habits has been reflected by that of retailers, with only 18% not thinking the internet is important to them.

This year, more advertising than ever before is directing people to shop online, with the likes of PC World and Argos pushing their internet services and retailers such as and also appearing onscreen.

According to the research, 6% of consumers will use the internet to do the majority of their shopping, a 50% increase up from 4% in 2004 with convenience, time saving, and ability to browse for products with no hassle all being mentioned.

High-street stores are attracting the majority of consumers with 60% heading to the big names for their Christmas shopping, while people in the south west prefer to use supermarket websites.

Consumers aged from 45-55 are the age group using the internet the most for gift buying and are most likely to be from the north west.

Women are more likely to use supermarket websites, 54%, and high street store websites, 62%, compared with men, who prefer to use manufacturers' sites more often. Overall, men are more likely to use the internet with 8% doing their shopping online, compared with 5% of women.

Dave Tanslet, partner in consulting at Deloitte, said: "Most people use search engines like Google to track down the product or gift they want. Smart online stores should secure high rankings in the search engine results thrown up to increase volume of consumers attracted to their site."

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