WH Smith said its online book sales rose a staggering 70 per cent in the 19 weeks up to 9 January this year, compared to the same festive period last year.
The high street retailer, which is getting ready to launch the ?Smith? brand online, confirmed that total sales for The Internet Bookshop rose to #1.7 million as more and more UK consumers came online last year, particularly in December.
WH Smith set up The Internet Bookshop last year after acquiring Bookshop.co.uk for #9 million. The number of registered users to the site have doubled to 135,000 since its takeover six months ago.
Previously WH Smith said that it did not expect to make any profit out of its Internet ventures until the middle of 2000. Analysts believe it will now quickly reconsider these predictions as ecommerce business starts to ramp up.
As well as extending its range of goods available online to include CDs and videos, WH Smith is widely rumoured to be setting up as a free Internet service provider, following Internet the footsteps of Dixon Group?s Freeserve and Toys R Us.
WH Smith is also expected to go into the online information business with its recent takeover of the Helcion Publishing Group, responsible for the Hutchinson Encyclopaedia, for #5.6 million.
The retailer has made no secret of its plans to be a major player on the Internet. Consequently its share prices have been rising as more and more investors back cyberspace projects. Following its online christmas sales news WH Smith?s share price rose 7.5 pence to 597.5p.
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