Despite concerns over the state of Britain’s high street retailers, online stores enjoyed a 79% year-on-year surge in business over Christmas, according to a report from the Interactive Media in Retail Group.

December’s online buys totalled £949 million ($1.5 billion; €1.4bn), with strong sales of alcohol and pre-wrapped gifts as well as perennial favourites such as books and CDs indicating a growing confidence in buying on the web.

IMRG – a lobbying group for the etail sector [with a vested interest in championing its growth] – points out that the 79% rate of expansion was nineteen times the 4.1% increase in offline sales measured by the British Retail Consortium, though such a contrast is hardly surprising given that internet retailing is growing from a minute base compared with the long-established high street.

In fact, December’s sales were down slightly from the record £1 billion reported in November – a fact attributed to the shortened Christmas selling period. “Basically you had two weeks selling for the month for many retailers,” IMRG chief executive James Roper explained.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff