Online spending is set to reach £56 billion by 2014, according to analyst Forrester Research.

UK online shoppers outspend their American and European counterparts. More than half of UK consumers, about 28 million people, shop online often and shoppers estimate they spend £1,312 per year online. To put this in perspective, Germans spend £771 a year while French consumers spend £693 online annually.

According to Forrester, the number of online shoppers is set to jump to 37 million by 2014, the equivalent of £56 billion in value.

UK retailers are the "most sophisticated in all of Europe" when it comes to web retailing, because they realise that the Internet is their biggest opportunity".

"Leading UK retailers like Argos, Next, and Tesco have begun integrating their channels in search of seamless cross-channel customer experiences to help drive substantial sales growth,” the report notes.

Books, DVDs and leisure travel lead the charge in most popular online purchases in the UK, found a Forrester survey of more than 4,100 UK consumers and large retailers with a web presence. The French more likely to shop for clothing, books and leisure travel online, while German consumers spend on books, clothing and event tickets.

"For the past decade, online shopping in the UK has been driven by a virtuous cycle,” said Forrester Research retail analyst Victoria Bracewell Lewis.

"Growing numbers of UK online shoppers and growing online spend per shopper encourage retailers and travel operators to improve their online offerings, which in turn draw more shoppers and higher spending.”

The full 'UK Online Retail and Travel Forecast, 2008 to 2014' report, which includes a breakdown of online retail by category, is available through Forrester.