Online retailers report 18% increase in trading

Home and garden website businesses are up by 18 per cent, a survey by online auction eBay's new Online Business Index has found.

A large majority (64 per cent) of online businesses are confident about the future and more than three-quarters are planning to expand their businesses during 2009, according to eBay.

Home and Garden is the number one sector among eBay's top 1,000 sellers, with a 17.7 per cent market share, up 18.4 per cent on 2008.

The most successful 1,000 small and medium-sized online retail businesses turned over an estimated £785m in 2008. owner Andy Baxter said: "We expect to double turnover this year - that's our target. We're heading for our best-ever month this March - it's the silly season at the moment.

"We can't get enough lawnmowers, and furniture is starting to take off. People look at us because they look for price - they assume the internet is where the best price will be. We're expanding as fast as we can."

Baxter said he had an eBay site but rarely used it because eBay charges 20 per cent commission. He is currently setting up a garden furniture and lighting site.

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