A record £5.6bn (€7.84bn) is expected to be spend online in the UK during December as increasing numbers of people buy their Christmas presents over the internet, it was predicted today.
Payments group Apacs said the figure would be a 56% jump on the £3.6bn (€5bn) that was spend online during December last year.
Overall the group expects £3.6bn (€5bn) worth of internet purchases to be put on credit cards during the month, while £2bn (€2.8bn) will be spent on debit cards.
The group said the number of adults shopping online had nearly doubled during the past five years to 30 million people.
It added that Monday December 3 is likely to be the busiest day for people to shop online during December.
It said Mondays were generally the most popular day of the week for people to make online purchases as they tended to do their research at home over the weekend but delay making a purchase until they were at work.
It added that most people were expected to order their goods three weeks before Christmas to give them time to be delivered.
The group has published a new guide, Paying Safely Online, and launched a new website giving people information on how they can reduce the risks of being victims of fraud.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications at Apacs, said: "More and more of us are buying our Christmas presents online and the evidence suggests we like to do so about three weeks before the big day to ensure they are delivered on time.
"The internet allows us to take the stress out of Christmas shopping, but it's important that people take steps to protect themselves - which is why we've launched this new guide and website."
She said people could take simple measures to protect themselves, such as installing up-to-date anti-virus software on their computer or registering their card with MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by Visa, which gives people extra protection when they buy things over the internet.
The Apacs guide can be downloaded free of charge at www.shopsafeonline.org.uk.