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Put digital strategy at top of to-do list

Whilst gloom envelops the high street, fashion retailers have witnessed continued online sales growth throughout 2008 and at the start of 2009.

In October 2008, fashion etailer Asos reported a 104% increase in year-on-year sales, while during the 12 weeks to January 3, Debenhams recorded a 38% growth in year-on-year online sales, plus a 40% rise in website visitors. Marks & Spencer, despite experiencing one of its toughest Christmases, recorded a 29% surge
in internet sales.

A digital strategy should be a priority for fashion retailers. Declining store sales, the internet’s strength as a sales channel, and the high level of research consumers conduct online, mean that it’s vital to provide a compelling ecommerce offer.

Google Insights for Search, which measures internet user searches, has shown search growth for retailers including New Look, House of Fraser, Asos and ittlewoods.

Market analyst Verdict Research has forecast continued growth for fashion retailers online throughout 2009. With many high street brands such as River Island and New Look recently launching websites, plus Matalan, TK Maxx and other value retailers - who previously shied away from the web - also beginning to get to grips with the channel, the rise of online shopping is a trend that is certain to stay firmly in fashion.

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