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Report: Record online sales for December

Online retail sales reached record highs in the UK over the Christmas period, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Sales of non-food products online increased by 19.2 per cent in December compared to the same time a year earlier. In total 18.6 per cent of all non-food sales took place online.

"As expected, more of us clicked into Christmas than ever before, with online non-food sales growth putting in its best performance since March 2010 and accounting for nearly 20 per cent of spending," said Helen Dickinson, Director General of the BRC.

"The surge in the use of tablets and smartphones last year, together with the ever faster delivery times achieved by an increasing number of retailers, has provided a new spur of growth to online shopping."

Dickinson believes that customers have been drawn to online shopping following increased investment by retailers into their websites and delivery times.

"This enhanced offer clearly struck a chord with customers who valued flexibility, choice and convenience whenever and wherever they did their shopping," Dickinson added.

The most successful retailers were those with "slick" multichannel operations, according to Head of Retail at KPMG David McCorquodale.

"With one in five items bought on the internet in December, this really was an online Christmas for the retail sector," McCorquodale said. "The statistics show that whilst store sales continue to flatline, online sales remain the main driver of growth for the sector, contributing nearly three quarters of the uptick in non-food sales in the last quarter of 2013."

According to the Office of National Statistics, 72 per cent of UK adults now shop online. Last week it was announced that the majority of traffic to retail sites on Boxing Day last year came from mobile devices.