Despite the dot.com crash of 2000, online shopping is growing in the UK with sales having reached at least £3.3 billion by 2003 (Verdict, 2003). This represents only two percent of all retail sales but the proportion is predicted to rise to five percent within a year or two (BCSC, 2001) and 10 percent by 2009 (Gibson, 1999; Verdict, 2003). Other estimates are even higher. The industry body, the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG, 2003) for example, estimated that e-retail had already reached seven percent of total retail sales. ‘Most people’ are prepared to buy groceries, books, CDs and even clothes by e-shopping (RICS, 2000). Books, DVDs and software are high on ‘factual search’ (Shim et al, 2001) and thus natural for e-retailing, but for other categories such as groceries and clothing are also increasing (Figure 12.3). It has been forecast that 94 percent of e-retailing will be at the expense of existing channels (perhaps half of this diverted from catalogue shopping, half from high street retailers — BCSC, 2001), with only 6 percent arising from incremental growth (PreFontayne, 1999). According to IMRG, there are about 4 million people in the UK who spend an average of £3000 to £5000 per year online (IMRG, 2003).
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