Shoppers spent more than £26.5 billion online in the first half of 2008, up 38 per cent on the £19.2 billion recorded at the same time last year.

Online sales now account for 17p in every£1 consumers spend – roughly equivalent to half of all supermarket sales and greater than all retail sales for clothing and footwear.

The Capgemini and IMRG e-Retail Index showed that online retail is proving resilient to the credit crunch as cash strapped consumers seek out bargains on the internet.

The report forecast that global e-tail will remain strong for the rest of 2008 - driven by fuel costs and falling disposable income - and could account for as much as 30-50 per cent of all consumer spending in the next five years.

Fashion sales showed the most growth, with£1.76 billion being spent on clothes in the period.