Online retailers predict record sales on busiest day

Online retailers have forecast record sales as they prepare for the busiest internet shopping day of the year.

The first Monday in December is considered the peak and one-day sales are expected to top £350m, with the busiest hour between 1300 and 1400 GMT.

Stores have already seen a surge in sales compared with 2008, when about £320m was spent on the busiest day.

But online spending still accounts for only 4% of total retail sales, according to national statistics.

Cyber Monday

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said as Britain struggled to emerge from recession, retailers were desperate for evidence of a surge in spending this Christmas.

Online, the signs look good. Sales were up 17% last month compared to the same month the year before, the British Retail Consortium said.

And retailer John Lewis said last week saw its best ever sales figures on the high street and online. On Saturday, sales at were up by a fifth on the previous year.

But as shoppers flex their credit cards on what has been called "Cyber Monday", consumers have been warned they are more likely than ever to become the victims of fraud and fake websites.

Tony Neate, of Get Safe Online, said shoppers should scrutinise websites very carefully.

And in May this year, the Office of Fair Trading said almost a third of internet users were not shopping online because they did not trust the system.

Personal security was high on the list of concerns.

Last year, an estimated 29 million people used the internet to buy Christmas presents, and forecasts suggested 5.2 million did so at work.

Overall retail sales last year were predicted to reach £13.6bn ($19.9bn), according to the internet trade body IMRG.

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