Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that online shopping hit record levels in December 2013, with close to one-in-five non-food items being bought online.
In fact, online trading represented 18.6% of total non-food sales during the month (up from 16.5% in December 2012), while overall the survey found there was a 19.2% growth in total internet purchases from a year earlier – the fastest increase in nearly four years.
This rise in online shopping has been largely driven by a combination of rising tablet and smartphone use as well as innovative and flexible multi-channel offerings provided by retailers.
The likes of click-and-collect services, improved delivery times and significant investment in websites have all encouraged people to shun the high street in favour of the internet, which perhaps explains why physical store sales have continued to flatline.
There was some good news, however, with overall retail sales figures posting a "respectable" increase of 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from December 2012 thanks to a late rush in pre-Christmas trading.
According to Helen Dickinson, director general of BRC, retailers are hoping that "a continuing boost from post-Christmas sales events [will get] 2014 off to a promising start."
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