People even fitted online retail therapy into their Christmas day festivities

People even fitted online retail therapy into their Christmas day festivities

Online shopping is what many retailers have to thank for their boost in trading figures over the festive season.

John Lewis, Debanhams and Marks and Spencer all reported substantial increases in their online sales, with some even breaking sales records.

John Lewis' online sales in the 5 week Christmas period were up 27.9 percent on the previous year with total online sales for the entire year exceeding £600million.

Christmas Day 2011 saw 62.8 million UK internet visits to online retail sites, proving it really is popular with spenders.

Online shopping has already become an increasingly popular way for people to shop and now a new trend dubbed "social shopping" is due to rock retailers in 2012.

Retail expert, Ellen Flood, from UK social shopping website Shopow said: "What we will see this year is the evolution of the high street with leading retailers changing their approach, and in many cases their product lines, to reflect the tastes of the modern shopper. As more people are become internet savvy, retailers will need develop and improve their online offerings and to embrace the Social Shopping phenomenon which is gathering pace."

Shopow is the first social shopping website in the UK with over 22,000 retailers. Consumers have access to reviews and comparisons of hundreds of products allowing them to interact and make and informed decision before they buy.

Ellen concluded: "The internet is developing as a key element of the retail landscape. Online shopping offers shoppers and incredible amount of choice, convenience and savings."

"Social shopping makes the online shopping experience more meaningful as people interact with their friends to share purchases they have made, likes and dislikes and, most importantly, great deals and discounts. Plus it adds an element of fun to the online shopping experience."

Comparison websites, whether it be for car insurance, holidays and now retail products, are popular amongst today's recession hit shoppers who are looking to spend their cash wisely.

Alexandra Baracskai