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UK tops online sales chart for Europe

The UK is leading the way in etail sales in Europe according to the latest report from Mintel.

The study showed that online sales in the UK reached €18.5 billion (£12.8bn) last year, compared to just €13bn in Germany, the largest European country. France topped €7bn worth of sales for the year while Italy reached €1.1 bn and Spain stood at €1bn.

The UK has also seen the fastest level of growth. Between 2005 and 2007, online sales soared 75%, a performance matched only by the French market.

Mintel director of research Richard Perks said: "The UK has by far and away the most developed online market in Europe. The main reason for this, is the sophisticated online offering of the UK's food retailers and the fact that so many of us now more than happy to turn to the internet to do our weekly shop."

Sales in the UK are forecast to rocket 199% in the next four years, hitting €56bn by 2012.

Although Germany is the largest European country and the second largest online market in Europe, Germany is expected to see the slowest rise in sales over the coming five years, at 69%.

Perks said: "E-commerce in Germany has not developed quite as quickly as expected, even though Germans are generally quite open to spending their money online. Although mail order companies have done well online, most high street retailers here have done very little to improve their presence online and the fact that credit cards are not widely used in Germany has also hampered progress."

The largest German online retailer is Otto Group, the owner of Freemans, Grattan and Oli in the UK, which has moved a large portion of its catalogue business online.

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