Consumers have markedly increased their online spending compared with last year as they attempt to spread the cost of Christmas, analysts said today.
Shoppers spent a total of £5.2 billion online during October, up 23% on the same time last year, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.
The figures show online sales have grown by 17% so far this year compared with the same period in 2009, with shoppers spending £46 billion since January.
Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes picked up in October amid signs that shoppers brought forward purchases ahead of January's rise in VAT to 20%.
Today's figures show a 33% year-on-year increase for the clothing sector, while the gift sector was up 76% compared with September.
Capgemini spokesman Chris Webster said: "The market continues to grow ahead of our expectations and this is a crucial time for e-retailers to beat the competition by using innovative strategies and tactical promotions in the run up to Christmas.
"The web is consistently seen as the place to go for bargains, and retailers with an online presence should use this to their advantage."
Tina Spooner, from IMRG, said: "As retailers gear up for the lucrative festive trading period, the evidence from the index suggests those with a strong online presence will reap the rewards over the coming months."
Bruce Fair, managing director of comparison website Kelkoo, said: "Despite challenging economic times, consumers are showing little signs of cutting back with Christmas sales expected to reach £68.7 billion this year."