Online sales at Christmas are expected to be 16% higher than last year as shoppers hunt for bargains, according to IMRG.

According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, British shoppers spent £4.8bn online in September, a year on year growth of 24%.

Apart from home and garden, which saw a decreased of -1%, all of the retail sectors showed a year on year growth of at least 10%. Clothing, footwear and accessories were up 28% from September last year.

Gift sales lifted in September by 32%, showing consumers are looking to spread the cost of Christmas.

Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG, said: “Despite a continuing decline in consumer confidence, the online retail market is growing ahead of our expectations, with a double-digit rise in yearly sales recorded in each quarter of 2010.

“Concerns over the impending Government spending cuts, VAT increase and job security, together with falling average households’ disposable income, are all contributing to driving this positive e-retail performance as consumers turn to online retailers to secure the best deals.

“During the fourth quarter we estimate that the UK e-retail market will reach £17.4 billion, with sales during December alone reaching around £6.4 billion as shoppers flock online during the festive season.”