In its latest study on e-shopping in Britain, retail information specialist Verdict Research reports that internet shopping volumes grew 71% in the six months to April. By 2005 the firm expects shoppers to be spending £12.53bn online – or 5% of all retail sales.

Ahead of the cyber-pack at present is the grocery sector, although interactive TV is expected to boost the clothing sector, with sales forecast to hit £1.2bn by 2004 – 2.7% of sector sales. Mobile phones and other hi-tech products are also predicted to lift online sales figures to 5% of the UK total by 2005.

Only 6% of internet sales growth is expected to come from new business, 94% being switched from existing channels. And women are fast catching up with men in web-based shopping, their purchases mainly “cannibalised from existing sales via stores and mail order catalogues,” says the report.

Verdict suggests that the two main obstacles to growth are security and delivery, with some 41% of net users worried about disclosing financial details, and 25% of online shoppers experiencing problems with inconvenient delivery times.

"Excellence in all aspects of fulfilment will separate the online winners from the losers over the next five years," was Verdict’s verdict.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)