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High street gets a late boost as the net closes.

Internet retailers expected an extra surge in orders last night as the pre-Christmas posting deadline drew near.

Amazon told customers to get orders in by midnight last night to ensure first-class deliveries arrived on time.

But the tight deadline may mean a welcome late boost for shops as last-minute shoppers head back to the traditional high street.

Royal Mail's suggested last posting dates in the UK to ensure delivery on time for Christmas, were yesterday for first class and tomorrow for special delivery.

But ahead of the final rush of dads, brothers and uncles, online sales are rushing ahead as consumers hope to avoid the Christmas crush at traditional retailers.

An influx of online shoppers crashed one retailer's website last week as it struggled to cope with huge volumes of shoppers and orders.

While conventional shops saw a pick-up in sales over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday were vital for e-retailers, industry body Interactive Media in Retailing Group (IMRG) said.

IMRG put the increase down to improved product lines, choice and investment in online stores.

Figures from the group estimate around 24 million shoppers could spend as much as pounds 5bn online in the run-up to Christmas.

The Royal Mail will handle around 70 million online bought goods ( a massive 15 million more than last year.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2005
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