New figures have revealed that whilst growth in high street retail sales virtually stagnated over the recent Christmas shopping period, online shopping sales over the same timespan rose significantly.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), whilst retail activity overall was only 1.1% higher than it was in December 2011 – and just 1.2% higher than at the peak of the recession in 2009 – 10% of this activity was made up of internet shopping- a rise of 1.2% in the share of online sales over the same period last year.

Further bad news for the overall retail sector was also revealed with official figures showing that total sales for December declined by 0.1% in comparison with November, and by 0.6% when comparing the last three months of 2012 with the period covering the third quarter of the year.

The figures have also emerged in the wake of confirmation that three major retail brands traditionally associated with the high street – HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster – have all been placed in administration, largely owing to poor retail sales.

Helen Dickinson, the director general of the British Retail Consortium (BRS), said:

“For the more established retailers, it seems that much of the growth is now coming from online orders, while shop sales are stagnant at best.”

Dickinson added that the growth in online sales had been helped further by investment on the part of retailers both in improving the user-friendliness of their websites, and in boosting their security online.