December 23, 2010 / 9:31 AM / 7 years ago

Five million Britons to shop online on Xmas Day

LONDON (Reuters) - Almost 5 million Britons are expected to go online on Christmas Day and spend over 150 million pounds ($232 million) as they look to grab bargains and beat a rise in January in VAT sales tax, a retail group said on Thursday.

IMRG, the industry body for Internet retailers, is predicting that 4.8 million shoppers would hit their computers on December 25 and spend a record 153 million pounds.

The estimate is backed up by payments company Visa Europe, which expects 960,000 transactions worth 36 million pounds will be made on Visa cards on Christmas Day. Visa transactions account for over 1 pound in every 4 pounds spent.

Online sales surged an average 22.5 percent year-on-year in October and December and although deliveries have been disrupted by recent adverse weather conditions IMRG is confident shoppers will not have been put off.

"Christmas Day has become a busy online shopping day in recent years as people with an eye for value look to take advantage of the 24/7 nature of online retail," said IMRG's managing director David Smith.

"With many people not being able to get out to the high street sales due to the wide-ranging impact of the snow, online could see a real boost over the next few weeks."

IMRG forecast that sales of expensive items, like furniture and electrical goods, could get a boost ahead of an increase in VAT sales tax in early January.

Separately Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, has announced a sale of home and kitchen products on its website ahead of similar offers in stores from December 26.

The supermarket group said the discounts would be on hundreds of items including duvets and furniture, and were worth around 195 million pounds.

"Christmas Eve and even Christmas Day will be two of Tesco's busiest online shopping days this year," said commercial and marketing director Richard Brasher, adding Tesco was freezing VAT on all non-food products in its seasonal sale until January 25.

($1=.6456 pounds)

Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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