Shoppers spent £4.67bn online in December, but monthly growth online slowed for the first time in six years as consumers spent 1.5 per cent less than in November.

Figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed that sales were up 14.2 per cent on December 2007.

Shoppers spent 13 per cent more on alcohol online than in November and sales of gifts and electricals rose 7 per cent and 5 per cent respectively in the month.

Clothing, footwear and accessories experienced a flat performance compared to November. Lingerie and health and beauty sales fell month on month and year on year.

The research showed that around two thirds of shoppers spent more online at Christmas and a third of shoppers did more than half of their Christmas shopping online.

Capgemini UK head of consulting Mike Petevinos said: “This is the first recession we have seen where online will play a significant role in mainstream spending. Our research provides further evidence that consumers are turning to the internet as the most efficient way to save money in the downturn”

Clothing, footwear and accessories was the fastest growing sector online for the whole of last year. Sales in those categories increased 30 per cent on average year-on-year each month during 2008.