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High street shops winning online shopping battle

High street retailers are pulling ahead of their online only counterparts when it comes to online shopping in the UK, according to new research.

The new report "Can Retailers Have a Happy Christmas During the Credit Crunch?" , from Hitwise, tindicates that the sites of the 100 largest online high street retailers in the UK, such as Argos, Next, and Marks and Spencer, received 19.3% more UK Internet visits during July 2008 than the 100 largest online only retailers, such as Amazon, and ASOS.

"High street retailers overtook their online-only counterparts for the first time during December 2006, but quickly fell behind again for most of 2007," commented Robin Goad, Research Director for Hitwise UK.

"However, when the high street overtook again last Christmas, the gap was even greater than before and during 2008 the online only retailers only managed to edge ahead during February. Given the 2.6% year-on-year decline in actual physical visits to retailers reported by Experian Footfall for July, it looks like high street retailers will be more reliant than ever on their online operations this Christmas," Goad added.

According to Hitwise's report, "Can Retailers Have a Happy Christmas During the Credit Crunch?" , between July 2007 and 2008, UK Internet traffic to the online properties of high street retailers increased by 18.7%, compared with a drop of 10.2% for online only retailers.

The top 100 high street retailers online accounted for 1.85% of all UK Internet visits in July 2008, equivalent to one in every 5 visits to an online shopping website.

The top 5 online high street retailers in the UK during July 2008 were: 1. (1.69% share of UK Internet visit to Shopping And Classifieds websites), 2. (1.27% share), 3. (0.90% share), 4. (0.74%) and 5. (0.58% share).

Fashion retailers weathering the credit crunch online

Over the last 12 months, fashion has been the fastest growing area of online retail in the UK. In July 2008, UK Internet visits to Hitwise's Apparel and Accessories category accounted for 1 in every 10 visits to online retail websites, with the sector having experienced an annual growth rate of 34.2% since July 2007.

Online fashion retail in the UK is dominated by the high street brands, which accounted for seven of the top ten websites in the category during June.

"The growth of the online fashion industry has been one of the main contributors to the increasing market share of high street retailers online," commented Robin Goad. "However, there are exceptions to the rule. ASOS was the second most visited website in our Shopping and Classifieds - Apparel and Accessories category in July 2008. UK Internet traffic to online-only fashion retailers has more than doubled over the last 12 months."

In addition to major high street brands such as Next, Top Shop and River Island, the top 10 online fashion retailers in June also included two other remote shopping specialists, M and M Direct and Boden.

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