Britons will spend a record 7 billion pounds ($13.3 billion) on online purchases in the run-up to Christmas, a 40% rise on last year, a survey quoted by an AFP report, said.
The AFP report quoted e-retailing body Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) as saying that an average of 4 million pounds ($7.6 million) will be spent via the Internet every hour across the country in the 10 weeks to December 25.
The total 7 billion pounds compares to 5 billion pounds ($9.5 billion) in the same period in 2005 and 3.3 billion pounds ($6.2 billion) in 2004, the AFP report added.
IMRG chief executive James Roper was also quoted by AFP as saying that the online shopping boom was down to more sophisticated Web sites, increased consumer awareness of goods via the Internet and a greater take-up of broadband connections at home.
Clothing appeared to be the biggest growth sector but electrical goods still accounted for the lion's share of sales, making up one-fifth of all items sold online at Christmas.
The release of the survey coincided with the arrival in Britain of one of the world's largest ships containing 45,000 tons of toys, books, computers, Christmas crackers, decorations and food from China, the AFP report said.