Shoppers continued to shop online in January, when spending rose 19 per cent year on year.

The figure was up on the 15 per cent growth that online retailers experienced throughout the second half of 2008, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

Monthly growth fell for the second consecutive month running, "in line with the seasonal trend experienced in previous years of a January dip after the Christmas shopping surge".

The clothing and footwear market performed most strongly in January, generating yearly growth of 32 per cent. Lingerie was the worst performer year on year - sales in the category plummeted 27 per cent compared with last year.

Beers, wines and spirits sectors suffered the biggest decline month on month and sales were 62 per cent lower than in December.

Capgemini UK head of consulting for retail Mike Petevinos said: “Our January results show that consumers are increasingly seeing online as the place to shop in the current environment, with year-on-year growth of nearly 20 per cent for the month.

"Key drivers of this growth have been the electricals and clothing segments, reflecting the post-Christmas sales effect on consumer spending.”

He added: “The question is whether bricks-and-clicks retailers can prioritise this sufficiently above the defensive strategies needed to combat tough high street trading. If not, the risk of widening the gap versus their pure-play rivals will be inevitable.”