A trend that's set to stay in fashion...

Monday, June 29, 2009 | 1:49 PM

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While high street sales have borne the brunt of the economic downturn, fashion retailers have continued to see growth in their online web sales during 2008 and 2009.

Last year online fashion retailer ASOS reported a 104% increase in year on year sales. While during the intensely competitive Christmas trading period, Debenhams and M&S recorded 38% and 29% increases in online sales respectively.

In March this year the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reported a stunning rise of 26% in sales of footwear, clothing and accessories. By May, however, sales growth had slowed to 8.2% regarded as a result of both recessionary effects and sunshine.

While online may not be completely impervious from the credit crunch the underlying trend in online fashion retail is still one of growth. The pressures on advertisers now are to ensure that their offerings remain competitive and their digital strategy is effective.

The combination of falling store sales, the Internet’s strength as a sales channel and the high level of research consumers conduct online means providing a compelling eCommerce presence is still very much a necessity.

Google Insights for Search shows strong year on year growth in search interest for leading fashion brands New Look, River Island, ASOS and Littlewoods. Meanwhile the popularity online of value retailers like Matalan, Primark and Peacocks is also shown to be on the up.

More growth online during 2009 still seems likely for fashion and apparel retailers despite the slowdown. With many high street fashion brands like Whistles, River Island and New Look recently having launched transactional websites plus Matalan and other value retailers - who previously shied away from the web - also getting to grips with the channel, the rise of online shopping appears to be a trend that is set to stay in fashion.