German online sales leap 55 pct over Christmas

BERLIN (Reuters) - German online sales leapt 54.5 percent over the Christmas period from the same time the year before, underscoring the rapid shift in consumer spending from traditional stores to the internet. BVH, Germany's e-commerce trade association, said on Thursday online sales reached 8.5 billion euros ($11.6 billion) in the period from mid-October to December 24, meaning they probably accounted for about 10 percent of total retail sales. The pattern has been similar elsewhere in Europe. Online transactions across the continent rose 37 percent in December, according to payment services provider Ogone, while online sales of non-food products in Britain climbed 19.2 percent in December, the highest growth for four years, according to an industry body. BVH said clothing was by far the biggest category for online sales in Germany, followed by books and electrical goods. Company results suggest online retailers and firms able to combine internet shopping with pick-up facilities in store performed far better over Christmas than traditional stores. Strong performers include the likes of Dixons Retail, Europe's No.2 electricals retailer by revenue, and British fashion chain Next. German department store group Karstadt, meanwhile, saw a drop in Christmas sales. Online retail sales in Europe are forecast to double by 2018 to 323 billion euros, according to market research firm Mintel. Companies benefiting from e-commerce in Germany include Inc, mail-order group Otto, online fashion retailer Zalando, the Media-Saturn electronics chain as well as logistics providers such as Deutsche Post DHL. ($1 = 0.7329 euros) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter)