Web Watching - e-salesmonitor - Tracking Online Retail Sales

The Index's year-on-year growth slumped from April's 137.5 per cent high to just 34.3 per cent, the lowest level yet recorded in the 30 months during which annual comparison data has been available. Warm weather depressed sales in some sectors, but the main causes of the online sales collapse are the worsening junk email plague and an onslaught of viruses. The erratic Index pattern of recent months illustrates the scale of the problem.

'Email abuse and malicious viruses are damaging e-commerce,' commented IMRG's Jo Tucker, who directs the e-Retail Index programme. 'Consumers are fed up with their online experience being blighted and can't understand why the culprits aren't being stopped. Effective co-ordinated action by the world's governments is needed urgently.'

Some merchants managed to shrug off the sector's problems, however.

'September was a record month for Furniture123.co.uk, with orders more than double the same month last year,' says Furniture123 marketing director Paul Haddock. 'We witnessed record traffic levels, indicating that more people are happy to purchase big-ticket items online.'

AnnSummers.com's online marketing manager Kevin Barnes told IMRG: 'AnnSummers.com had another scorching month in September, with sales up 62 per cent on last year. October is expected to be as strong.'

The IMRG Electricals Index, which tracks online sales of anything with a bulb, battery or plug, showed a particularly strong performance (chart 2). It has risen 70 points in the year, from 117 to 187, indicating that the sector was worth an estimated£135 million in September.

Carphonewarehouse.com head of e-commerce Andrew Harding says: 'Mobile sales online continue to be strong on Carphonewarehouse.com, with overall connections figures for September up 20 per cent on last year. We have every confidence that this Christmas will be the best yet.'

IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), founded in 1990, is the industry body for global e-retailing

Tel: +44 (0)7000 46 46 74

Web: www.imrg.org

Email: Market@imrg.org

Contact: Jo Tucker, Managing Director.