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Etailers enjoy sales bonanza at Christmas

Online fashion retailers celebrated a sparkling Christmas, with shoppers spending more than £500m on clothing, accessories and footwear in December, an 18% hike on last year.

According to the IMRG-Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, online accessories sales rose 101%, footwear saw a 37% rise and online sales of lingerie jumped 15%.

The peak week for online sales during the Christmas season was the second week of December, which was a week later than in 2008. This was put down to tactical promotional activity, the fall of Christmas on a Friday and the postal strikes in the run up to the festive period.

IMRG-Capgemini said full-year sales growth in its e-Retail Index hovered at between 10% and 20% throughout 2009, with clothing, footwear and accessories driving the overall growth during the year.

The etail trade body said it expected overall online sales growth to be lower in 2010, at about 14%, with total retail sales of about £57bn.

IMRG-Capgemini said customer expectations would rise in 2010 and advised retailers to focus on conversion rates through technology and tactical promotions and to harness social media opportunities.

The strong December figures were reflected in a string of Christmas trading updates from etailers this week.

Young fashion giant Asos reported sales growth of 30% in the five weeks to January 3, driven by sales of party dresses and Ugg boots.

Although well below the 100%-plus growth seen at Christmas 2008, Asos chief executive Nick Robertson said: “I couldn’t grow at 100% this year as I didn’t have 100% more stock.”

Asos has appointed Clare Dobbie, who has held roles at Mother advertising agency as well as Gap and French Connection, as marketing director. Dobbie replaces Hash Ladha, who left in November. She takes up her role in March.

Discount etailer M and M Direct said total sales in the 10 weeks to January 3 rose 21%, with online orders up 30%.

Ethical etailer Ascension, which previously traded as Adili, said sales for November and December rose 36% year on year.

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