Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC has posted an interesting article on their dot.life blog. It notes a huge increase in online retailing in the last quarter of 2008 compared to 2007 whilst the British Retail Consortium issue figures saying they'd seen "Worst December in [the] Survey's History".

The article quotes figure from Neilsen Online and says "No surprise that Amazon is at the top of the list with a monthly audience of 15.6 million. But that was a rise of just 18% on the previous year, whereas the figures for some traditional retailers were far more spectacular. Argos saw its audience rise by 32%, Marks and Spencer had a 46% rise and Littlewoods' audience was up 66%."

So it seems that people are being very cautious when it comes to the high street and this is pushing people toward bargain hunting online. Despite the gloom over the top-line figures The British Retail Consortium see a similar trends to Neilsen stating "non-store sales in December were 30.0% higher than a year ago" so it would seem that the traditional retailers are gaining significant growth from their online presence whilst seeing a massive fall from their core business model.

All this underlines the importance of online, it could be argued that the sudden freezing of their web revenue stream was instrumental in Zavvi's collapse. Rory finishes with an interesting point "Back in the late 90s the dotcom evangelists told us that online start-ups would crush the dinosaurs of retailing and leave the shopping malls and high streets deserted. That didn't happen - but a decade later the online retail revolution is finally happening. And funnily enough, the dinosaurs are now leading the charge."

This period, with it's contrasting fortunes for high street and online divisions, will be analysed long and hard but it will be an interesting benchmark in growth on online retailing.

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