Shop Direct Group sales climbed 9 per cent in the six weeks to January 2 as more shoppers took advantage of later online delivery deadlines in the run-up to Christmas.

The multichannel retailer, which runs websites and catalogues including Littlewoods Direct, said that online sales soared 44 per cent compared with last year and now account for 56 per cent of total sales.

Over the Christmas period 1 million customers visited the retailer’s websites each day. Shop Direct Group chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “We are pleased with our trading performance during the Christmas period and particularly with the continued growth of our online business as this becomes the shopping channel of choice for many of our new and existing customers.

"We believe the retail outlook in 2009 will be difficult. However, we will continue to invest in and improve our broad range of products, our online platform and our customer service, whilst continuing to offer our customers flexible payments terms.”

In the six weeks to January 2, Shop Direct delivered more than 7 million items in the UK through its distribution arm Home Delivery Network.