13 December 2001 | Robin Parker
Online shopping is gathering pace this Christmas as more people switch the high street store for the computer terminal at home.
According to the Royal Mail, orders are expected to grow by 40 per cent with the delivery of 10 million Christmas gifts to people's homes. The number of online shoppers was predicted to rise from five million to seven million.
The Interactive Media Group recently forecast £1.75 billion of online sales in the three-month Christmas shopping and January sales period.
But the online growth appears to be confined largely to low-value gifts such as books, CDs and toys, a market dominated this year by the Harry Potter sales bonanza.
Rohan Morris, operating director of New Wave Logistics, which delivers electronics goods to stores such as Argos and Dixons, said the uncertain economic climate was pushing back high-value Christmas purchases to the last minute.
"In October and November our one million square feet of warehouse was still full and we had to source a good 5 per cent more space.
"But there has been a late upsurge and now we have had to hire 60 more vehicles on short-term lease and increase night deliveries to cope with the demand," he said.