This week is National Consumer Week and the theme this year is 'Be a Savvy Shopper this Christmas' – especially important when shopping online.

There is currently a downturn in spending in high street stores and many Christmas shoppers are using the internet to look for bargain Christmas presents. Online retailers are expecting consumers to spend a total of £13.2 billion in the final quarter of the year, a 15% rise in turnover compared with the last quarter of 2007. Spending is expected to peak on 8 December when it is estimated that £320 million will be spent on the internet on that one day. As demand for 'must-have' items rises nearer Christmas, shops are expected to raise their prices for such items as stocks get low. Buying early from internet retailers can mean huge discounts for purchasers, especially when combined with discount vouchers offered on a range of websites (The Times, 16 November 2008).

With the increasing amount of internet retailing, the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) recently carried out a survey of online shopping and found that many consumers and traders were not aware of their rights and regulations or of the security issues and risks involved. In line with this year's National Consumer Week theme, 'What Consumer' gives up-to-date information for safe online shopping (, 17 November 2008).

Read the Times 100 case study on the leading UK online fashion store for women and men. Launched in 2000, the online retailer targets fashion conscious 16-34 year olds. On there are 9,000 products available at any one time, with 450 new fashion items added every week. These include womens fashion, menswear, accessories, jewellery and beauty products. attracts 3.3 million unique shoppers every month and has 1.8 million registered users. Sales increased by 90% year on year for the 12 months to 31st March 2008. is expected to do well online, in the Christmas sales period. is listed on AIM (Alternative Investment Market)  and recently reported that in the first seven weeks of its second half year, sales were up 104% and it expects to exceed its sales forecasts for the full year. Shares in gained as much as 8.2% when reports of a 68 percent increase in its first-half pre-tax profit were announced (Reuters, 17 November 2008).